Two "cheeky" orphaned gorillas posed for an incredible selfie with rangers in a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The remarkable photo in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo has become viral since its release on Facebook. "The photo was taken by Mathieu Shamavu, who is a full-time ranger in Virunga National Park," a National Park spokesman told Fox News via email. "The two orphaned gorillas in the photo are Ndakazi and Ndeze."
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In the Facebook post, the organization said the gorillas were photographed in the Senkwekwe Center for orphaned gorillas at the headquarters of the park in Rumangabo. "We received dozens of messages about the photo. YES, that's real! "Explained the park. "These gorilla girls are always cheeky, so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities! It's no surprise to see these girls on both legs – most primates are comfortable on two legs (bipedalism) for short periods of time. "
The eye-catching selfie underscores the close connection between the giant primates and the staff who take care of them in the gorilla orphanage.
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"We want to emphasize that these gorillas are in a closed sanctuary for orphans, where they have been living since childhood. The caretakers of Senkwekwe are very careful not to endanger the health of the gorillas. These are exceptional circumstances in which the photo was taken. It is never allowed to approach a gorilla in the wild. "
Park guards in Virunga have an extremely dangerous job. According to the Park website, ten rangers have been killed since the beginning of 2018, the vast majority of whom defended the park against poachers. In April 2018, five rangers and a staff driver were killed in an ambush by poachers.
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The Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and describes itself as the "oldest and most biodiverse protected area in Africa". In addition to mountain gorillas, the park also houses a number of different primates, elephants, lions and 706 different species of birds.
The park hopes the viral image will support its work. "Protecting the amazing wildlife of Virunga is a constant challenge for the park," reads the Facebook post.
Other animal selfies have attracted attention in recent years. For example, earlier this year, a snow leopard in the mountains of China became a viral sensation when he spotted a remote camera and posed for selfies.
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Last year, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a monkey in Indonesia should not have the copyright of a famous smiling selfie taken in 2011. Last month, a woman in Arizona was attacked by a Jaguar when she jumped over a barrier at Litchfield Park Zoo to take a selfie with the animal.
The Associated Press and Fox News "Chris Ciaccia and Katherine Lam have contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers