Cameraman groomed and licked by gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable Park

Updated: 22 Dec 2011
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The tourist was trying to film wild gorillas during a chance encounter in Uganda, but the cameras were soon trained on him as the troupe apparently mistook him for a fellow ape.

The middle-aged American tourist, dressed in a black t-shirt, was crouching on a small rock when a silverback, an adult female and some baby gorillas emerged from the jungle forest and sat directly behind the stunned camper and start grooming him.

They stroke his head, pull a stick out of his hair and even lick his face.

The tourist, named John, does his best to sit still and even avoids eye contact with his gorilla companions.

Another man who filmed the encounter, at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park earlier this month, is heard offering John a commentary to what he cannot see behind him.

"The silverback is just behind you. He's sitting a metre behind you and [there are] three babies squashed between him and you. The female's just behind you to your right," the friend is heard saying.

"Tell me what you're feeling now, John."

"I just feel like one of the gang," John says.

After about three minutes, the silverback moves on and the troupe follows.

According to local rangers, the gorillas only ever enter the camp a couple of times a year.

In a prelude to the video, uploaded to YouTube on December 17, John described the encounter as an "innocent interaction with wild gorillas".

"It just happened in a very natural way with no staging or choreographing. It was absolutely thrilling."

Gorilla watching safaris are a major tourist attraction in Uganda.
 
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