A troop of wild mountain gorillas recently turned a typical ecotourism encounter upside down when the animals paid a visit to a tented camp in Uganda’s Park. Video footage 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. “These gorillas were interacting with me just like I was one of their own, and it happened completely naturally,” King said. “Who knows why it happened?” Local rangers were also stumped, telling King that, while baby gorillas sometimes interact with humans, the rangers had never known adult animals to take such an interest.
“It was a total gorilla high going back to camp the evening after observing… and we were ready to go home the next day,” said King, who’s from Massachusetts. But “around 6 o’clock the next morning, one of the expedition members in the tent next to ours said, ‘Hey John get up, you won’t believe it.’” King said that he wasn’t particularly scared to see the gorillas in the camp, because the same animals had been so gentle the day before. He merely sat down by the path and prepared for some very close-up photography. “It was one of those experiences that the more you think about it, the more you begin to absorb just how special it was,” King said. “We want to share it, and we hope that this might be a way we could raise awareness and maybe somehow benefit the gorillas and the local communities that do all this work while themselves living on the edge of poverty.”