Wild Gorillas Adopt Man, Decide To Groom Him
Ever wonder what it's like to make friends with a wild gorilla?
When John J. King II traveled to Uganda in 2011, his biggest hope was that he could spot one of the region's wild mountain gorillas. Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to roughly 320 of the endangered apes - half the world's population.
But the gorillas gave him a bigger welcome than he ever expected. On his second day in the rainforest, King was fortunate to observe a gorilla family in the wild - he watched as the little ones nursed from mom and played in front of their parents, he wrote on his blog.
And it seems the fascination was mutual. Incredibly, when his camp awoke the next morning, they discovered the gorillas had traveled three hours to return the visit. And as the family curiously marched through camp under the watchful eyes of dad, King was singled out for some truly remarkable special treatment.
A video shows him crouched down with his camera while a group of wild youngsters approach him - and eventually climb all over him. King notes on his blog that while the gorillas are accustomed to humans and are nonaggressive, such direct encounters with adults are "virtually unheard of."
At first dad isn't happy, huffing and pulling a little one away from King.
But when he sees his kids are enthralled with their new plaything, he gives up and sits down to supervise.
Over the next few minutes King is treated to a grooming session ...
... and some very forward encounters ...
... and even receives an attempted head massage.
After the family moves away, King excitedly mouths at the camera, "I'm a gorilla!"
Of course, staged wildlife encounters are rarely a good idea - and gorillas in particular should be given a wide berth. But when interactions happen as organically as this, they're incredible.
"[It] just happened in a very natural way," King says in the video. "There was no staging or choreographing. It was an innocent interaction with wild gorillas, and it was absolutely thrilling."
You can watch the amazing full video below.