In a national park in the Congo, orphaned gorillas are cared for by park rangers as if they are family.
Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse protected area.
The park’s Senkwekwe Center is the only sanctuary in the entire world for mountain gorillas who have been ripped away from their families because of poaching or conflict.
Every day, staff cares for these orphaned gorillas. The gorillas have a daily routine in place to keep them happy and healthy, and they also have developed relationships with the rangers. One park ranger in particular, Matthieu Shamavu, has a very important job: the role of “dad.”
Community is important to gorillas, and Shamavu helps complete the family unit that they need. He protects and cares for them, and they adore him.
Just look at the photos they take with him for proof!
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Our mountain gorilla orphan Matabishi and caretaker Matthieu truly are the best of friends! Learn more about the Senkwekwe center and our orphan mountain gorillas on virunga.org/projects/gorilla-orphans #Virunga #NationalPark #senkwekwe #gorillas #gorillaorphans #mountaingorillas #UNESCO #worldheritage #rdc #drc #africa #rumangabo
Ndeze and Ndakazi are two orphans in particular who have developed a close bond with Shamavu. Their parents were murdered when they were very small. When Ndakazi was found, she was only two months old and still clinging to her mama, who had been viciously killed. With the care of the center, she survived. Now Shamavu acts as parent to these sweet ladies.
Not only does he care for them, but he loves them.
It’s clear from the photos that they are one tight-knit family. The expressions of the gorillas’ faces are priceless. And Shamavu looks serious about the role he plays as dad!
The gorillas strike a pose like they know that thousands of people will see them. It’s hilarious and so sweet!
Naturally, the selfie below went viral. Why wouldn’t it? Look how cool they all look: just two girls and their dad putting on their toughest don’t-mess-with-me faces.
We can’t get enough of this photo.
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You might have recently seen caretakers Mathieu and Patrick’s amazing selfie with female orphaned gorillas Ndakazi and Ndeze inside the Senkwekwe center at Virunga National Park. We’ve received dozens of messages about the photo. YES, it’s real! Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities! Also, it’s no surprise to see these girls on their two feet either—most primates are comfortable walking upright (bipedalism) for short bursts of time. Guys, if you shared our gorilla selfie post, please share our Earth Day posts as well! Conserving Virunga’s amazing wildlife is a constant challenge for the Park and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support. Matching funds have been pledged on every donation to the Park today, up to a total of $25,000—giving us the opportunity to raise $50,000 for Virunga! Visit virunga.org/donate or click the link in our bio to get involved and keep sharing our posts! Thank you! *We want to emphasize that these gorillas are in an enclosed sanctuary for orphans to which they have lived since infancy. The caretakers at Senkwekwe take great care to not put the health of the gorillas in danger. These are exceptional circumstances in which the photo was taken. It is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild. #gorillaselfie #gorilla #mountaingorilla #mountaingorillaselfie #selfie #earthday #earthday2019 #virunga #virunganationalpark #congo #drcongo #rdc #drc #protecttheplanet #happyearthday #wildlife #wildlifeconservation #conservation #natureconservation
Did you know that gorillas could be this cheeky?
“YES, it’s real!” Virunga National Park wrote on the Instagram post. “Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities! Also, it’s no surprise to see these girls on their two feet either — most primates are comfortable walking upright (bipedalism) for short bursts of time.”
They can also be incredibly loving. A young gorilla named Matabishi poses with Shamavu in the photo below, and it’s so beautiful. Look how comfortable and natural these two look together. The way they hang on to each other speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
It’s so precious.
The Senkwekwe Center has changed the lives of these gorillas forever. Not only have they given them protection and community, but they’ve given them a parental figure to fill the void of the ones they lost.
Shamavu has a dangerous job, as do all the park rangers in the facility. They are constantly at risk for poacher attacks and rebel group strikes. Caring for these animals isn’t easy or safe, but the park rangers are for them no matter what, willing to risk their own lives to keep them safe.
h/t: The Dodo
This story originally appeared at Goodfullness.
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