Senkweke Center Bids Farewell and Good Luck to Orphan Lulingu


Caregiver Babo Ntakarimaze carries Lulingu to the plane 

Orphaned gorilla, Lulingu, has completed her rehabilitation at the Senkwekwe Center and has been transferred to the GRACE facility for lowland gorillas. Lulingu was rescued several months ago near Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Lulingu’s mother was killed by the animal traffickers that seized her. Thankfully, Lulingu’s fortunes have improved dramatically since that dark day and she has thrived under the expert care of Babo Ntakarimaze and others at the Senkwekwe Center in Virunga National Park.


Really? No snacks on the flight?

Virunga’s Director and Chief Warden, Emmanuel de Merode, flew Lulingu to GRACE on June 18th. He was accompanied by Babo, who held Lulingu closely during the 1-hour flight, and Disney veterinarian, Nathalie Mylniczenko. Lulingu was as cool as a cucumber during the flight and required no sedation. When the plane arrived, Lulingu was met by GRACE caregiver Aldegonde Saambili and others. Lulingu quickly developed an affinity for Aldegonde during the car ride from the landing strip to GRACE, which put Babo’s mind at ease.


Taxiing to the runway at Kitale airfield — near Virunga National Park headquarters.

Lulingu must now undergo a quarantine period to ensure she didn’t pick up any illnesses during the transfer. Like Kalonge, who was also rehabilitated at the Senkweke Center and transferred to GRACE almost a year ago, Lulingu will receive 24/7 care from her human caregivers until she is ready to be integrated. Although the word “quarantine” may conjure up visions of concrete holding cells, to the contrary, Lulingu will get to spend much of her time in the GRACE forest with her caregivers. Lulingu was introduced to that forest compound on her first day. She promptly climbed a tree and began eating tasty Myianthus fruit. We’ll take that as a good omen for Lulingu’s future.

GRACE_Lulingu at GRACE

Lulingu making herself at home in the GRACE forest

Photos courtesy of Adam Kiefer

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  1. Elizabeth July 4, 2016 Reply

    Such great news! All the best to little Lulingu in her new home. I view the work at Senkwekwe and other rehabilitation centers throughout the region as a sign that goodness is everywhere and comes in many forms. The beauty of natiure is everywhere and comes in so many forms.

    With hope for a wonderful future for all mountain gorillas of Virunga and central Africa,

    Michigan, USA

  2. Carlene Mease July 14, 2016 Reply

    God bless all of you caregivers. It speaks well of your great efforts that an orphaned gorilla such as Lulingu who lost her mother, probably under horrible circumstances she witnessed, could come back to being able to live and be happy again. You have my utmost admiration and respect.

  3. Naomi Radunski July 17, 2016 Reply

    It is a marvel that so many people have acted together to save this little life. I am sad, though, that a little person who should have lived her whole life among her family members, will never have that. And that she has to adjust and re-adjust to circumstances. Thank you for giving her a future. I hope and pray it will last for the rest of a natural lifespan.

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