A Merciful Ending for Gashangi

Gashangi_lip lesion_GD

Gashangi in December 2012 – When rangers first noticed the lesion on her lip.

It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the passing of adult female, Gashangi, of the Humba family. She battled melanoma for the last year and a half. During this time, the Gorilla Doctors did everything in their power to save her. Nine months ago Dr. Dawn Zimmerman tried to excise the tumor on Gashangi”s lip, but the tumor grew back with a vengeance. Dr. Jan Ramer recently tried a different treatment, but it too failed. A little over a week ago, Gashangi’s tumor literally began to explode and she became too sick to eat. Rangers found her away from the main group and in a severely weakened state. Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe, called in the Gorilla Doctors to see if there might still be something they could do to save her, or at a minimum, make her more comfortable.

Drs. Jan Ramer and Eddy Syaluha gathered their equipment and hiked in to find Gashangi the next morning. When they reached her, it was clear she had been suffering terribly. The mass on her face made eating next to impossible and the enlarged lymph nodes under her arms indicated the cancer had likely spread to other parts of her body. At this point, it became quite clear the intervention was going to be about palliative care, not curing Gashangi. Jan decided the tumor had to be surgically reduced if Gashangi was to have any chance of eating. The actual procedure went well, but as Gashangi’s was being brought out of general anesthesia, she slipped away.

Although everyone is sad to lose her, we can take solace in the fact that Gashangi lived a full life. She was a wonderful mother to her offspring and managed to flourish during some of eastern Congo’s most trying times. With that good fortune in mind, we bid Gashangi a loving farewell.



  1. Brenda Robinson July 5, 2014 Reply


  2. Noelle July 5, 2014 Reply

    So sad. I just read Dr. Jan’s report on the Gorilla Doctor’s website and they really did everything they could possibly do to save Gashangi since they noticed the tumour late last year. They said she was very courageous all the way up until the end. Poor little gorilla. Rest in peace sweet girl.

  3. Sarah-jane Peck July 5, 2014 Reply

    Very sad indeed and she is now resting – bless her and everyone involved in looking after her. She is now at peace and leaves you all with wonderful memories of her time.

  4. Frank Lomas July 5, 2014 Reply

    Sleep well Gashangi, You had a good life and raised your family to follow in your footsteps.

  5. Susan July 5, 2014 Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for all that you have done to take care of her and to try to make her well.

  6. Deb Lilly July 5, 2014 Reply

    Sending my condolences to all the team that did wonders to try and save Gashangi. Thank you for all you did for this. beautiful Gorilla. She is at peace now and not suffering and in pain. :'(

  7. Jaccqueline July 5, 2014 Reply

    I want to express my admiration for what you did for this fantastic soul. Being a stage IV cancer person I am so glad she did received all the care she needed and did not went along. I am sure you will miss her as her companions in the wild will.

  8. Donna Dorning July 6, 2014 Reply

    thank you for all that you do !!! RIP Gashangi

  9. maria jose gonzalez July 6, 2014 Reply

    dear friends of Virunga,
    thank you for taking care of this wonderful creature. now she is not longer suffering and hope reunited in their heaven . i am sure if there is a heaven all they go there
    all my love
    maria jose gonzalez
    madrid spain

  10. Virginie LABAT July 7, 2014 Reply

    Rest in peace lovely mother.

  11. Rita Rayman July 7, 2014 Reply

    Our hearts are heavy with the news of Gashangi’s passing.
    We know Drs. Dawn, Jan and Eddy, so we are reassured that everything was done, most lovingly, to provide Gashangi with the best possible care.
    Sending you all big hugs from Toronto, Canada.

  12. Jim A July 8, 2014 Reply

    A sad loss, thank you all so much for taking such good care of her and seeing her through o the end.

  13. kayembe July 10, 2014 Reply

    Repose en paix primate . Et je ferai connaitre ton histoire à travers mon blogger (jeankayembe.blogspot.com)
    j’espère que cela restera q’un cas isolé et qu’elle n’est touchera pas d’autre primate.

  14. Megan July 15, 2014 Reply

    At least she is now resting and no longer resting. Her family will miss her, and may she rest in peace. Thank you to the Virunga doctors and team for trying to save her.
    From Melbourne, Australia

    • Megan July 15, 2014 Reply

      Sorry for that error. I meant no longer suffering

      • Author
        Virunga Team August 21, 2014 Reply

        No problem, Megan. We knew that is what you meant. Thank you for your kind words.

  15. Megan July 15, 2014 Reply

    Sorry for that error. I meant no longer suffering

  16. Mrs. Patricia C. Rohan August 24, 2014 Reply

    Poor sweet baby, thank you to the doctors that tried to help her. It’s is so very sad, she is now in peace, thanks to our merciful Father. She is in no pain, no worries, rest in peace dear sweet Gashangi, you were a very good mommy! :(..

  17. Diana February 26, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for all the doctors who had helped her.
    You will be missed. Gashangi rip.

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