By Faith Nyasuguta
A gorilla that was photographed in 2019 posing for a calm selfie with game rangers at the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park orphanage has died.
The mountain gorilla named Ndakasi, passed away after “a prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated”, the park revealed in a statement.
“She died in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma,” it said.
The deceased gorilla was among a pair that had in 2019 photobombed a selfie with rangers who rescued them as babies.
Immediately the image was posted on Instagram, it went viral. It showed one park ranger, Mathieu Shamavu, in a T-shirt and posing for a selfie, with the two gorillas behind him.
In the image, one gorilla looks over her left shoulder, chin down, a just-another-day look on her face, peering toward the camera.
The other is seen leaning forward as if determined to make it into the shot, a hint of a smile at the edge of her mouth. Behind the trio is another ranger, hands behind his back, peering intensely at the scene.
During that period, the deputy director of the park informed media outlets that the gorillas had already learned how to imitate their caregivers, who have looked after them since they were rescued.
The assistant director affirmed that the gorillas often think of the rangers as their parents.
Bauma met Ndakasi when she was just 2 months old, just after she was holding onto her mother’s dead body.
Ten years later, Ndakasi has died holding onto Mr. Bauma. She was 14. In between those two embraces, Ndakasi had indeed rocketed to worldwide fame.