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Congo mountain gorilla who famously posed with park ranger dies in the arms of her caretaker

She passed away at the age of 14 following a prolonged illness.
Credit: AP
Mathieu Shamavu, un cuidador de gorilas posa para una foto con los gorilas Ndakasi, izquierda, y Ndeze, en el Parque Nacional Virunga, en el Congo, el 18 de abril de 2019. La gorila Ndakasi murió el 26 de septiembre de 2021. (Mathieu Shamavu/Virunga National Park via AP)

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

The park said she died on Sept. 26 following a prolonged illness. A statement from the park said Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker. 

She became well-known after a park ranger posted a selfie in which she and another mountain gorilla stood behind him, relaxed on two feet looking into the camera. 

Ndakasi was just 2 months old when rangers found her clinging to the lifeless body of her mother who had been gunned down by armed militia in 2007. 

With no other family members, the park says rangers took the infant gorilla to a rescue center where she'd meet her caretaker, Andre Bauman. Ndakasi would survive; but due to the trauma she endured and the lengthy rehabilitation, wildlife doctors determined she was too vulnerable to return to the wild. 

Ndakasi would be taken to the national park in 2009 where she spent the rest of her well-documented life. 

"It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age," Bauman said. "One could say that she took after her mother, Nyiransekuye, whose name means 'someone happy to welcome others.' 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."