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Gorillas Pose for Sassy Selfie With Anti-Poachers Who Saved Them as Babies

Scientists have worked tirelessly for decades to determine just how closely gorillas and humans are genetically linked, but it only took a park ranger with a smartphone to provide the overwhelming evidence needed to prove it...

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Scientists have worked tirelessly to determine just how closely gorillas and humans are linked, but it only took a park ranger with a smartphone to provide the overwhelming evidence needed to prove it. The way these two grown primates posed for a selfie with him essentially confirms that we share an overwhelmingly similar predisposition to mug for the camera. 

This now-iconic photo of a pair of female gorillas sassily posing upright was captured last week by Ranger Mathieu Shamavu, who works at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, it's the story behind the selfie that adds an especially charming dimension to how and why they seem to be such naturals in front of the camera. 

Shamavu, who works in an anti-poaching unit at the park, took the photo inside a special gorilla sanctuary at Virunga where the two females -- Ndakazi and Ndeze -- were taken in as months-old orphans in 2007 after their parents were killed. The two have been raised in the sanctuary around the rangers who rescued them and have come to treat them as their parents, according to the BBC. In fact, they're so comfortable around them that they try and imitate them, explained Virunga's Deputy Director Innocent Mburanumwe, who spoke with the BBC. Standing up and posing as they are is their way of "learning to be humans," he said.

"I was very surprised to see it... so it's very funny," he said. "It's very curious to see how a gorilla can imitate a human and stand up."

The photo went viral shortly after it was posted on the anti-poaching unit's official Facebook page last week. As of publication, over 30,000 folks have liked or reacted to it. Though, some questioned whether it was even real, so Virunga's official Instagram and Facebook pages have since reposted it to verify that it is indeed authentic.

"YES, it’s real! Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities!" the Instagram post's caption reads. 

As lighthearted as the photo may make the work of these rangers seem, it is anything but. As the BBC points out, being a ranger at Virunga is exceedingly dangerous work due to both poaching activity and political unrest. Just last year, five rangers were killed there by suspected rebels and more than 130 have been killed since 1996. 

In any case, let's hear it for Ndakazi and Ndeze's remarkably polished posing skills.

h/tBBC


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.