Today nearly half of the world’s 700 remaining mountain gorillas live in the Virunga Mountains of central Africa, at the intersection of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mountain gorillas are the world’s most endangered gorillas.
Gorillas live in troops and each troop is led by one dominant, older adult male often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (Fossey Fund)
Dr. Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains in 1967, to protect and study the endangered mountain gorillas. In the course of her years of research, Dian established herself as a true friend of the mountain gorilla.
As years passed by she formed a particularly close bond with one particular gorilla named Digit. He was roughly 5 years old and living in Group 4 when she encountered him in 1967.
Tragically, on December 31st 1977, Digit was killed by poachers. Which made Dian start a war with poachers. She established the Digit Fund to raise money for her “active conservation” and anti-poaching initiatives.
The Digit Fund would later be renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (Fossey Fund). A few weeks before her 54th birthday, she was murdered.
Thanks to a generous lead gift from The Ellen Fund, the Fossey Fund was able to advance their vision for a purpose built, permanent headquarters in Rwanda.
What is Ellen DeGeneres gorilla Fund?
The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will provide the Fossey Fund with a purpose built campus to amplify their mission of conservation; protect and study gorillas; train the next generation of African conservationists; and build the conservation capacity of local communities. It is located in Rwanda, Kinigi, Musanze district.
February 1st 2022, the Ellen Campus of the Fossey Fund opened.
Portia de Rossi said “I am here because it was my dream to link my wife, Ellen, to her hero in a significant and lasting way. My dream aligned with a 15 year dream of the Fossey Fund Leadership to build a permanent home in Rwanda. And so the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will be Karisoke’s permanent home” she continued to say that “It is my hope that the campus will serve as a catalyst, to encourage us to dream bigger, to know that we too can make an impact and that all of us can become trailblazers—just like Ellen and Dian.”.
The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey not only will encourage Rwandans to follow their dreams but it has also given jobs to 2,310 workers. 99% are Rwandans and 21% are women. More to that over $14 million invested in Rwanda and its people, also 250,000+ native plants were propagated.
It is divided in different departments; they have a research department which is core to The Fossey Fund’s mission.
The Sandy and Harold Price Research Center is a state-of-the-art facility built to further the Fossey Fund’s research in areas such as gorilla genetics, physiology and paleontology.
Education is a hallmark of the Fossey Fund’s activities—for university students, local school children and community members.
The Rob and Melani Walton Education Center houses classroom space, science library and computer lab and The Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery will host visitors to the Ellen Campus of the Fossey Fund with an immersive public exhibit designed to tell the story of mountain gorilla research and conservation from Dian Fossey’s time to today.
To complete a visitor’s experience at the Ellen Campus, there is a café and gift shop with inviting areas to sit an enjoy the biodiversity of the campus.
This project was able to be completed by the help from different people who gave love, donations and support. “And this isn’t the end of the road. The Ellen Fund continues on our journey to save endangered species, and invites you to join us to help our planet. It is the only way that we can save these animals with your help”.