Mountain gorilla Ndakasi, whose viral photo shot her to stardom, has died at the age of 14 in the arms of her devoted keeper, Andre Bauma.
It was in 2007 when Ndakasi and Bauma became fast friends; he had discovered the infant gorilla clinging to her mother’s dead corpse.
Ndakasi and Ndeze, an orphaned female gorilla, were relocated to the Senkwekwe Centre in Virunga National Park in 2019. As a selfie of them went viral, they became Internet celebrities. Mathieu Shamavu, a park ranger, was seen in a 2019 snapshot, taking a selfie with Ndakasi and Ndeze in the background. Ndakasi, though, may have captured the majority of the audience’s attention when she peered down at the camera from behind her left shoulder.
At the age of fourteen, Ndakasi “gave her dying breath” on September 26 after “a protracted illness in which her health progressively worsened,” as reported by the park.
Along with the sad news, the park also shared a photo of the beautiful animal and her longtime friend in their last moments together. When Bauma took her hand, Ndakasi put her head on his chest and closed her eyes. When her mother died 14 years ago, Bauma held her close to his chest to make her feel better.
Bauma told the reporters, “It was an honor to help and care for such a kind animal, especially knowing that Ndakasi had been through a terrible thing at a very young age.” Others might say she looks like her mother, whose name, Nyiransekuye, means “someone who is happy to welcome people.”
Ndakasi’s kindness and wisdom enlightened me to the connection between people and Great Apes and the need of doing everything we can to save them, the author writes.
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To quote what he said, “I am honored to have named Ndakasi my buddy. I felt the same way about her as you do about your own children; her bright disposition made me happy whenever we were together.
Our lives are better by having known Ndakasi throughout her time at Senkwekwe, and we shall miss her dearly here at Virunga.
There is a danger that Ndakasi, like other mountain gorillas, may be killed for their meat or their skins. Around 600 park rangers in Virunga National Park, Congo, work tirelessly every day to ensure the safety of these gentle giants.
Ndakasi and Bauma’s human-animal bond is one that will live on in our hearts forever.