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The 14-year-old mammal “took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma,” the Virunga National Park said in a statement. She passed away after battling a long illness in the park’s Senkwekwe Center, where she resided for over a decade.
Caretaker Bauma became close with Ndakasi after she was found by national park rangers clinging to the corpse of her mother. “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 his own statement. He added that the gorilla’s “sweet nature and intelligence” aided him in helping him “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,” he added. “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.”