Animals may become orphaned and reliant on people for their survival. Thankfully, there are plenty of people who dedicate their entire lives to providing for these animals—some even acting as their parents.
Two orphaned gorillas were shown in a widely shared photo taking a "selfie" with one of their rescuers, indicating the animals' confidence in their caregivers.
Sadly, one of those gorillas passed away not too long ago, but another image demonstrates how her connection with her human colleagues lasted right up to the very end.
The Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is committed to safeguarding local wildlife, especially a population of endangered mountain gorillas that is frequently in risk from poachers.
Park officials found a two-month-old baby gorilla clinging to her mother's lifeless bones in April 2007; the mother had been killed by an armed gang.
After taking in the orphaned little gorilla, ranger Andre Bauma developed an immediate attachment with her. According to a news release from Virunga, "Andre held the baby close to him, keeping her tiny body against his bare chest for warmth and comfort" the entire night.
The orphaned gorilla Ndakasi made a lovely home for herself in the park, where she lived with another orphan named Ndeze and developed a strong relationship with her caregivers.
The world was able to see the gorillas' close relationship in 2019 after a breathtaking photo of them went viral.
Ndakasi and Ndeze are seen in the photo taking a "selfie" with their friend and caregiver, Mathieu Shamavu. It looks like both gorillas are just posing for the amusing picture, standing straight:
Many people were skeptical that the photo was authentic until it went viral. Conversely, the picture demonstrated the close-knit and trustworthy bond that exists between these gorillas and their human caregivers.
"Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky, so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities!" the park wrote as a commentary for the Instagram snap.
Mathieu said to The Dodo, "I'm still close to them, and they're feeling good."
The park reports that Ndakasi passed away on September 26 following a protracted illness.
However, as one stunning, tragic picture captures, she passed away in the arms of her lifelong buddy, Andre Bauma—the same ranger who had adopted her so many years prior.
Knowing the tragedy Ndakasi endured at a very young age made it an honor to nurture and care for such a loving creature, Andre said in a news release. "I learned about the relationship between people and Great Apes and the importance of protecting them because to Ndakasi's gentle disposition and sharp mind.
"I think it's an honor to have Ndakasi as a friend. She was like a child to me, and every time I saw her, I smiled because of her upbeat attitude."
The park also remembers her well-known selfie with fondness, saying it contributed to a positive message about gorillas and their keepers.
According to Virunga, in a letter to the editor, "Andre Bauma will miss her so dearly because of their playful nature, which reminded the world of how much we see ourselves in these animals."
Peace be with you, Ndakasi. The close and compassionate bond that orphaned animals have with their human caregivers is depicted in two incredible pictures. There will be a big loss for everyone who knew and loved her.
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