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Ndakasi, mountain gorilla which became a selfie star, dies in arms of ranger who rescued her

Remember the iconic photo of two gorillas posing for a selfie with rangers? Sadly, one of them died "in the arms" of the ranger who had rescued her as an infant. The news shared by the national park in Democratic Republic of the Congo has left netizens heartbroken.

Ndakasi, the famous mountain gorilla which went viral in 2019 along with another female gorilla Ndeze, had been under the care of the Virunga National Park's Senkwekwe Center for more than a decade.

At the age of 14, Ndakasi breathed her last in the arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma, the park announced. "On the evening of 26 September, following a prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated," the park said in a statement while sharing a touching photo of the orphaned ape with her rescuer.

Born to the Kabirizi group in April 2007, Ndakasi was only two-months-old when Virunga rangers had found her clinging to her mother, who was killed by armed militia hours earlier. "With no other family members present, rangers quickly recuperated the infant gorilla and transferred her to a rescue center in Goma, where she was first introduced to Andre," the website read.

Although the poor baby gorilla survived, she was "too vulnerable to return to the wild". She went on to lead a peaceful life with other orphaned mountain gorillas thanks to her dotting caretakers. She also later became a social media star, often melting hearts online with her quirky personality.

"Ndakasi's life was well documented and her heartwarming personality was featured in several shows and films, including the documentary Virunga, where she can be seen consumed in laughter while being tickled by a caretaker," the website added. Of course, her iconic selfie with Ndeze remained a fan favorite.

"It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age," Bauma said in a statement. "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," the ranger said talking about his beloved gorilla.

"I loved her like a child and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her," Bauma added saying she will be missed by all at Virunga.

Virunga, which is home to around one-third of the world's endangered mountain gorillas is the only facility in the world that cares for this gorilla species in captivity. It was also famously known for its four gorillas - Ndakasi, Ndeze, Matabishi and Musuka - who reside in the centre's forest sanctuary.

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