Park ranger's selfie with orphaned gorillas goes viral

Virunga National Park said the selfie happened under "exceptional circumstances," reminding people not to approach gorillas in the wild.
Two mountain gorillas seen in Virunga National Park, near the Uganda border in eastern Congo, in November 2008.
Two mountain gorillas seen in Virunga National Park, near the Uganda border in eastern Congo, in November 2008.Jerome Delay / AP file

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By Ben Kesslen

A park ranger's selfie with two orphaned gorillas is going viral.

Ranger Mathieu Shamavu was working at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the two gorillas decided to strike a pose.

Shamavu works for the park's anti-poaching unit, and the gorillas in the photo, Ndakazi and Ndeze, are orphans who have been raised in the park.

Virunga National Park posted the picture on Instagram after it went viral, saying, "YES, it’s real!"

It also told readers not to be shocked by the gorillas' poses. "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," the park explained.

While the selfie shows the lighter side of being a ranger, it can be a dangerous job. Last year, gunmen killed five Virunga National Park rangers, who often risk their lives to protect wildlife and the gorillas.

Virunga said the photo happened under "exceptional circumstances," reminding people that "it is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild."