Photo shows orphaned gorillas posing with guards who protect them from poachers
A selfie taken by a ranger at a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is going viral.
Ranger Mathieu Shamavu, an anti-poaching guard at Virunga National Park, snapped the image, which shows him mugging for the camera with two endangered mountain gorillas, who strike uncannily human poses.
After the image began gaining widespread attention online, park officials took to Instagram to verify the photo and share more background on the sensational moment.
"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," they wrote. "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!" the post continued. "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."
However, park officials said that the selfie was captured under "exceptional circumstances" and cautioned that tourists should never try to recreate the moment.
"We want to emphasize that these gorillas are in an enclosed sanctuary for orphans to which they have lived since infancy," they wrote. "The caretakers at Senkwekwe take great care to not put the health of the gorillas in danger. It is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild."