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Chance encounter with a family of wild mountain gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

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As a troop of wild mountain gorillas passed through a tented camping area of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, leading a smaller troop of ecotourists to find themselves in the middle of a very unusual encounter.

Video footage, now gone viral, shows baby and adult gorillas approaching U.S. tourist John J. King II, sitting with him, and even grooming him as he sits in quiet amazement—right next to a giant male silverback gorilla…

“The trackers told us, sometimes babies might approach you, and so just basically sit there in a docile position and they will usually just move away,” King said.

At first, “this baby kind of grabbed my arm in a very gentle way. I just can’t tell you how gentle it was. It was like a young child touching your arm in a way that’s very endearing.

“Then it just escalated,” King continued. “Instead of moving away, it went behind me and started to touch me on the shoulder and on the head in what was obviously grooming.

“When the silverback walked up, I was transfixed and really set upon not engaging his eyes and trying to be docile.

Read more about the experience on NationalGeographic.com.

holding still with the gorillas
Next: Dr Charlotte Uhlenbroek meets a family of mountain gorillas and Baby Gorilla Gladys at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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