Orphaned gorilla dies in the arms of the man who rescued her as a baby

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RUMANGABO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO – SEPTEMBER 21: Orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, lies in the arms of her caregiver, Andre Bauma, before dying days later on September 26 after a prolonged illness. Mr Bauma and others at the Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center had cared for Ndakasi and other orphans for 13 years. This is the only mountain gorilla orphanage in the world and takes in mountain gorilla orphans who have lost their families to poaching or conflict. A number of the orphans here were rescued from sales by poachers in sting operations carried out by Congolese National Park Authority (ICCN) rangers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

She was found clinging to her mother’s body more than a decade ago and was taken to a rescue center where a man held her, keeping her safe and warm; Ndakasi took her final breaths in the arms of the same man before her September death.

The beloved gorilla was in the care of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade. Ndakasi suffered from a prolonged illness before her death.

The gorilla was just a few months old when armed militia gunned down her mother, according to the park. Rangers couldn’t find any family members nearby, so they took her to a rescue center where she was introduced to “lifelong friend” Andre Bauma.

“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. “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. I am proud to have called Ndakasi my friend. I loved her like a child and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her. She will be missed by all of us at Virunga but we are forever grateful for the richness Ndakasi brought to our lives during her time at Senkwekwe.”

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