Ellen DeGeneres gifted a new campus to Africa’s largest gorilla research and conversation center with a donation of $5.9 million through the foundation that bears her name.
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres met with endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda, where she went on safari four years ago. While trekking in the Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park, DeGeneres has been fascinated by sad story of National Geographic researcher Dian Fossey, who was murdered as she tried to protect the gorillas, as well as the giant gorillas. Then, the comedian founded The Ellen Fund as soon as she returned from her trip to project mountain gorillas and many other endangered animal species, which have been killed for their meat and their hands that were often turned into ashtrays. Their first plan was to establish a modern campus where the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund could easily conduct its scientific research. And in a short time, she collected $5.9 million in donations and built the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which is also one of the Africa’s much-anticipated architectural projects. DeGeneres said that “Dian Fossey has always been a hero of mine” in the opening ceremony last week. She also added, “To see my name alongside hers on the walls of this beautiful campus, and to know I’m doing my part to protect endangered gorillas and continue Dian’s legacy, is simply amazing.”
Dian Fossey, whose magnificent but also sad life story is told in the movie Gorillas in the Mist, adapted from the book of the same name, lived alone in the Virunga Mountains for more than twenty years, conducted scientific studies on gorillas and fought a worldwide struggle to ensure the continuation of the generation. Founded by her efforts, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the only foundation entirely dedicated to the protection of gorillas. Today, 900 mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda, thanks to the studies that the famous researcher started by expressing she feared the gorillas would go extinct before the year 2000. In this important science center, all scientific studies that will ensure the continuity of the generation are carried out both in the field and in the laboratories, while African youth are raised as research and activists of the future. Besides, numerous generous donors contributed to the project, including actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who named the 360-degree theater for his mother, Irmelin DiCaprio, and a computer lab for his father, George DiCaprio.
Nowadays, mountain gorillas exist only in three African countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. Exclusive safaris are organized for those who want to see the 900 remaining gorillas up close. You can see the gorilla families living with their cubs after four hours of challenging walks in the dense rainforest accompanied by guards and guides, and you can observe them closely and take pictures for an hour. The park entrance and trekking fees paid for this unique experience are transferred by governments to studies that will ensure the continuation of the generation. If you would like to go a gorilla safari one day, be sure to visit the new building of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda and get information. And by making a small donation, you might contribute to a future where your children and even grandchildren will not talk about gorillas like dinosaurs…