Andre Bauma met Ndakasi when she was just 2 months old, just after she was holding onto her mother’s dead body. More than a decade later, Ndakasi has died holding onto Mr. Bauma. She was 14.

In between those two embraces, Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rocketed to global fame.

In 2019, Ndakasi (en-DA-ka-see) and another female mountain gorilla, Ndeze, photobombed a selfie taken by a ranger at the Virunga National Park in Congo, where they lived.

When the image was posted on Instagram, it went viral. It shows one park ranger, Mathieu Shamavu, in a T-shirt and posing for a selfie, the two gorillas behind him. One gorilla looks over her left shoulder, chin down, a just-another-day look on her face, peering toward the camera. The other is leaning forward, as if determined to make it into the shot, a hint of a smile at the edge of her mouth. Heyy! Behind them is another ranger, hands behind his back, peering intensely at the scene.

a caption when the image was posted online. The photo delighted the internet and brought another round of attention to Ndakasi, who, by that point, had already lived a notable life.

She was born in 2007 as a member of the Kabirizi group, one of eight gorilla families living in the 3,000-square-mile park, which sits between Uganda and Rwanda. The year she was born, there were just 720 mountain gorillas on the planet, according to the park. Now, that number has grown to above 1,000, according

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