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Kamis, 07 Oktober 2021

Ndakasi, 'sweet', 'intelligent' selfie-famous gorilla, dies aged 14 in arms of caretaker in Congo - ABC News

Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla which famously posed for a selfie with a ranger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, has died aged 14. 

"It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, who had been under the care of the park's Senkwekwe Centre for more than a decade," the park said in a statement. 

The park said she died on September 26 after rapidly deteriorating from a prolonged illness.

"Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma," the park said.

Ndakasi was just two months old when rangers found her clinging to the lifeless body of her mother which had been gunned down by armed militia in 2007.

Mr Bauma comforted baby Ndakasi that first night, holding her to his bare chest and he continued caring for her over the next 13 years.

In 2009, she was transferred to the Senkwekwe Centre and lived with other orphaned mountain gorillas, viewed as too vulnerable to return to the wild.

Celebrity status 

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

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

Mathieu Shamavu/Virunga National Park via AP

)

"It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature," Mr Bauma said.

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

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

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

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

ABC/AP

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2021-10-07 23:15:09Z
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