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A mountain gorilla who went viral after posing with a park ranger has died at the age of 14.
Ndakasi was saved by local rangers in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo when she was just two months old. She lost her mother to an armed militia, with rangers finding her on her mum’s body after she’d been shot.
Later in life, she was transferred to the park’s Senkwekwe Centre with Ndeze, another orphaned gorilla. In 2019, they became a worldwide sensation after posing in a selfie with park ranger Mathieu Shamavu.
Ndakasi passed away on September 26 after a ‘prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated’, the park said in a statement. She died in the arms of caretaker Andre Bauma, who’d looked after her for 14 years. They were photographed together as the gorilla approached her final breaths.
‘It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age. One could say that she took after her mother, Nyiransekuye, whose name means ‘someone happy to welcome others’,’ Bauma said in a statement.
‘It was Ndakasi’s sweet nature and intelligence that helped me to understand the connection between humans and Great Apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them. I am proud to have called Ndakasi my friend. I loved her like a child and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her.
‘She will be missed by all of us at Virunga but we are forever grateful for the richness Ndakasi brought to our lives during her time at Senkwekwe.’
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