Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla who rose to prominence after photobombing her forest ranger’s picture in 2019, has died after a prolonged illness. The gorilla died in the arms of her beloved companion and caregiver, Andre Bauma.
The tragic news was posted via social media by the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Ndakasi resided. According to the article, the orphaned gorilla’s health suddenly worsened “on the evening of September 26th, following a prolonged sickness.” A heartwarming photo of the gorilla with her caregiver was also posted on social media.
Ndakasi has been under the care of the Senkwekwe Center of the National Park for almost a decade. In 2007, she was just two months old when she was discovered by park authorities. An armed militia had slain the ape’s mother hours before, leaving the orphaned monkey clutching to her mother’s body. She was introduced to Bauma, who became her companion and carer when she was saved.
According to the official website of the Virunga National Park, she was considered “too fragile to return to the wild” and spent her days in the Centre with other orphaned mountain gorillas. Ndakasi rose to fame on social media and appeared in a number of films and television series.
In 2019, she gained a following after a photo of her posing with another orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndeze, while park ranger Mathieu Shamavu was taking a picture went popular on social media.
The gorilla’s eccentric attitude earned it numerous hearts online, propelling it to the status of social media celebrity.
Considering the trauma Ndakasi had experienced as a youngster, Bauma saw it as a “pleasure to support and care for such a lovely creature.” He went on to say that the gorilla’s “sweet nature and intelligence helped me comprehend the link between people and Great Apes,” as well as why the species should be protected at all costs.
The Virunga National Park is home to around one-third of the world’s mountain gorilla population and is the only facility in the world that caters to the endangered species in captivity. The Park is home to around 1,063 mountain gorillas.