Mark David of California has long had an unusual item on his bucket list: "Tracking gorillas."
This year, in honor of his 60th birthday next month, David and his family embarked on what his son, Brandon, described as an "epic adventure." The exciting journey included a visit to London followed by five days exploring the Ugandan bushland. At the Bwindi National Park, home of the Mubare gorilla group, David saw his gorilla tracking dreams come true, ABC News reported.
After a two-hour hike that involved hacking brush with a machete to clear a trail, the David finally discovered a family of 12 gorillas in a clearing. David sat down on a rock to take in the incredible scene before him when one of the gorillas approached him slowly, getting closer and closer until he was finally barely a breath away. David and the gorilla locked eyes for a moment before the gorilla gave David a standout 60th birthday gift: a kiss on the cheek!
“The gorilla breathed hot air into my dad’s ear for a few seconds, then pressed his lips against his cheek," David's son Brandon told ABC News. "The guide gave a low guttural gorilla noise and the gorilla scampered off. We all commented on how surreal the experience was, and we certainly will never forget it... It was a truly wild adventure.”
Brandon posted the video above of the gorilla peck on Youtube. Titled "Gorilla Kiss for my Dad's 60th," the incredible clip quickly got more than 43,000 clicks.
The adventure illustrates that gorillas -- our closest relatives after chimpanzees and bonobos -- are strikingly affectionate creatures. Another gorilla that famously exhibits warmth and tenderness is Koko, a primate who understands 2,000 English words and knows 1,000 characters in sign language. Koko enjoys playing with lifelike orangutan and alligator dolls and showering them with hugs and kisses.
Unfortunately, gorillas are also an extremely endangered species. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, "many gorilla populations have declined or completely disappeared over the past few decades."