Fri. May 20th, 2022

Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla who famously posed for a selfie with a ranger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, has died at the age of 14.

“It is with deep sorrow that Virunga announces the death of the beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, who had been in the care of the park’s Senkwekwe Center for more than a decade,” the park said in a statement.

The park said she died Sept. 26 after quickly worsening from a long-term illness.

“Ndakasi took her last breath in the loving arms of her caregiver and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma,” the park said.

Ndakasi was only two months old when rangers found her clinging to her mother’s lifeless body, which had been shot down by armed militia in 2007.

Bauma comforted baby Ndakasi the first night and held her by his bare breast and he continued to care for her for the next 13 years.

In 2009, she was transferred to the Senkwekwe Center and lived with other orphaned mountain gorillas who were considered too vulnerable to return to nature.

Celebrity status

Ndakasi’s life was captured in the documentary Virunga, and she gained internet fame in 2019 after appearing on a park ranger’s selfie photo, which showed her standing relaxed on two feet, with her stomach out next to another gorilla, Ndeze.

A man stands in a green natural forest with two tall standing gorillas behind him
Ndakasi (left) became famous after appearing in a selfie with his caretaker and friend. (

Mathieu Shamavu / Virunga National Park via AP

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“It was a privilege to support and nurture such a loving being,” Bauma said.

Bauma said he was proud to have called Ndakasi a friend.

“I loved her as a child, and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her,” he said.

Virunga National Park in eastern Congo is home to the world’s last mountain gorillas, while more than 1,000 of the great apes live in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Nearly 700 rangers in Virunga Park risk their lives to protect its wildlife in a region that has experienced more than two decades of armed conflict and instability.

ABC / AP

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