Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Gorilla protection hero: Dian Fossey’s legacy

January 16 would have marked the 92nd birthday of our founder, Dr. Dian Fossey. During her life, the mountain gorilla population reached a low of about 240 gorillas and she believed they were on a path to extinction by the end of the last century.

Today, thanks in part to the gorilla protection and research work Fossey started, mountain gorillas are the only apes whose numbers are increasing, with approximately 1,000 individuals in total. 

In addition to gorilla protection efforts, Dian Fossey also inspired the broader conservation and scientific work that the Fossey Fund does today, including protection and study of important forest ecosystems and other biodiversity, education and training of future conservationists, and helping communities who live near the gorilla forests.  

Her story and passionate fight for the gorillas also inspired a worldwide community of people who care about these amazing animals and continue to invest in her legacy through their support of the Fossey Fund’s mission of saving gorillas and helping people.

But despite the success of the mountain gorilla population since Dian Fossey’s time, their future is far from certain, as their population is still small and faces a variety of challenges, from climate change to loss of habitat. Still, we know she would be proud of what her efforts have inspired and amazed to learn what a legacy she has left. And now we have expanded her original work to help save critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well, in an area that formally had no protection.

Another important birthday

Last year, we were delighted to observe the birth of gorilla Uburinganire on Jan. 16 – the same day as Dian Fossey! We are sure she would have been delighted to see such an incredible gift.

Uburinganire is the youngest child of an experienced mother named Isaro, and lives in a thriving group of 25 gorillas, led by silverback Musilikale. In this group, young “Ubu,” as we are nicknaming him, has lots of playmates as well as other adult males to help protect him, so we believe his future is bright.
In honor of the dual birthdays, Ubu is now available for symbolic adoption – only until the end of February – providing a special way to celebrate, support gorilla conservation and learn more about this special gorilla. Click here for more information and to learn how to adopt.