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On World Gorilla Day: Celebrating special Dian Fossey anniversaries and a new documentary about our Ellen Campus

On Sept. 24, 1967, the famed scientist Dian Fossey began her groundbreaking study of the little known yet highly endangered mountain gorillas in Africa – a moment we commemorate each year on World Gorilla Day, which originated in 2017 to celebrate this historic day and her work.

This year World Gorilla Day is especially important to us, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Dian Fossey’s book Gorillas in the Mist and the 35th anniversary of the movie based on the book, starring Sigourney Weaver as Dian. The book and the movie brought the plight of the endangered mountain gorillas to the world and reinforced what is now the longest-running gorilla research program in the world. 

Through Dian’s legacy, as carried out by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund since her death, mountain gorillas are a rare conservation success story. They are the only great ape whose numbers are increasing – a remarkable outlier at a moment when at least one million other species are in danger of extinction. Yet, despite their fragile success, the future for mountain gorillas is still a challenge. Due to their small population size, climate change and threats to the biodiverse habitats in which they live, all gorillas remain very much in danger of extinction. 

Our Ellen DeGeneres Campus

This year we also celebrate the blossoming achievements of our award-winning Ellen DeGeneres Campus in Rwanda, which opened in 2022, and which will be featured in a Discovery Channel special on Sept. 23 (as well as on Animal Planet on Sept. 24 and then streaming on discovery+ and Max). This will be an inside look at the creation of this incredible new center for conservation in Rwanda, which is also the first permanent, purpose-built home for the Fossey Fund. 

Since opening, our Ellen Campus has hosted more than 40,000 visitors, who come to see the interactive exhibits, including a re-creation of Dian’s original cabin, an immersive 360-theater, and a new virtual reality “Gorilla Trek” experience. Education is also a key goal of the Ellen Campus, with visits by more than 7,500 local school children, 150+ trainings for various groups and hosting 400 local university students for a variety of learning opportunities. 

We are very excited that Ellen’s documentary will provide the world with a look inside this important gorilla conservation center and the work of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund just in time for World Gorilla Day.

You can join World Gorilla Day too

We invite everyone to help spread awareness about gorilla conservation, especially as we celebrate World Gorilla Day. You can even join our teams of supporters for this special day, help raise funds for our work as well and earn some great gorilla swag!