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!"

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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

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"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."

To donate to the park's conservation efforts, click here

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