A Future for Gorillas and Conservation

The Ellen DeGeneres Campus
of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

The Future of Conservation is Here

Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery
Pictured above (from foreground to background): Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery, Rob and Melani Walton Education Center and Sandy and Harold Price Research Center.

"From the outset, the mission of this project has focused on creating a space to engage the many stakeholders in conservation — students, scientists, tourists, conservation partners, community members — to advance our collective goal of saving gorillas and more broadly, the planet. It is our hope that people who visit the Ellen DeGeneres Campus will leave inspired to make a difference, just as Dian Fossey did."

Dr. Tara Stoinski, president and CEO/chief scientific officer, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

The Future is Here

For 55 years, the Fossey Fund has been working to help conserve wild gorilla populations and support the people who share the gorillas’ forest home. It all started with two tents that Dian Fossey erected in the forest in 1967. From there, we grew over the years, from one person to a staff of more than 300. Until 2022, we worked out of rented spaces with limited facilities, far from the gorilla habitat and surrounding communities we serve. We needed a home that could support a growing team and expanding programs. In 2018, as we celebrated our 50th anniversary, Fossey Fund leadership made a strategic decision to move forward on an ambitious, 20-year dream to create a purpose-built facility in Rwanda aimed at accelerating science and conservation work.

Within months of this decision, we received a lead gift from global icon Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi. Since that time, thousands of donors, large and small, have supported the project and helped to create a state-of-the-art research and learning facility – the Fossey Fund’s first permanent home in Rwanda. In February 2022, we opened the doors to the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

The Ellen Campus

The multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park includes three main buildings – the Sandy and Harold Price Research Center, the Rob and Melani Walton Education Center and the Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery – as well as housing for visiting students and researchers. The Ellen Campus is designed to serve as a gateway to conservation for the many stakeholders with whom we work as well as visitors from around the world, helping to create the next generation of conservationists.

Science is at the core of what we do at the Fossey Fund. The Sandy and Harold Price Research Center is a state-of-the-art facility aimed at advancing our research in areas like genetics, physiology and paleontology. The five-fold increase in lab space as compared to our prior facility provides new opportunities to work with scientific collaborators and students as well as more training opportunities for young African conservationists.

"The Ellen Campus represents a huge expansion of our teaching and laboratory spaces, enabling us to not just increase but transform our programs to study gorillas and their critical forest habitat and bring educational opportunities to early career African scientists and members of the local community."

Felix Ndagijimana, director of Rwanda programs, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Central to our mission is education. Expanded classroom space, combined with a science library and computer lab, enhance our teaching opportunities with local and international universities and enable us to host conferences, seminars and trainings. But the educational opportunities extend beyond the classroom – indeed, the whole Ellen Campus serves as an educational tool. For example, the campus is literally a living laboratory – the more than 250,000 native plants that make up the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Interpretive Trails provide a rich experience for field trips. In addition, the Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery contains an immersive public exhibit designed to tell the story of mountain gorilla research and conservation from Dian’s time to the present day. It includes original, never-before-seen artifacts from Dian Fossey’s nearly two decades living with the gorillas, stunning visual experiences, including virtual and augmented reality and a 360-degree immersive theater, and numerous engaging edu-tainment opportunities to learn more about the science and the people behind the conservation success of mountain gorillas.

Campus Construction

The Ellen Campus is the vision of the award-winning MASS Design Group and was named one of Africa’s 10 most-anticipated architectural projects. It has been featured on CBS “60 Minutes” and in Architectural Digest.

Built with locally sourced materials and supplies, the facility embodies the Fossey Fund’s mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment through rainwater harvesting, green roofs, the reforestation of former agricultural land and a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity. Ninety percent of the $15 million budget for the campus was spent in Rwanda, including 2,400 construction jobs for local community members.

Dian Fossey has always been a hero of mine, and so it’s been the honor of a lifetime to support this project. 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.

Ellen DeGeneres

Visit Us

In addition to its role as a hub for scientific discovery, the Ellen Campus is also designed to support Rwanda’s ecotourism sector. Managed by the Rwandan government, tourism to see the gorillas plays a critical role in providing revenue for both the park and nearby communities through employment and revenue sharing. We are excited to add to the tourism experience by offering the opportunity to stop in for a tour, grab a cup of coffee at our Gorilla Café, peruse the gift shop and, most importantly, have a wonderful time while learning more about gorillas and our important work to help conserve them.

Contact us for more information about touring the Ellen Campus.

Watch CBS News’ Lesley Stahl and our CEO, Dr. Tara Stoinski, use our “gorilla chat” game from our exhibit.

The campus is open seven days a week from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., with the last entry at 4 p.m. We are closed on April 7, in recognition of Genocide Remembrance Day. Temperatures at the campus can be chilly so visitors are encouraged to dress warmly.

Photo Gallery

Thank you to the donors who made this dream a reality.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi

The Ellen Fund


Diane and Hal Brierley

Cindy Broder

Sandy and Harold Price

Sullivan Family Foundation

The Rob and Melani Walton Foundation

Chris, Margaret, Alyse, Kira, and Tess Bierly

The Abendshein Family

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Sharon and Par Chadha and Exela Technologies 

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Corning® Gorilla® Glass

Dallas Zoo

George DiCaprio

Irmelin DiCaprio

Nick and Cheri Faust

The Dillon Fund

Endangered Species Chocolate, LLC

Waldo Fernandez

Judith Harris and Robert Singer, M.D.

Sean P. Hayes

Richard Horder

Robert Littman and Sully Bonnelly

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Philip V. And Kim M. Petersen

Rebecca Finch Rooney

Sigourney Weaver


Brown LaBonge Family

Sophie Bryan

Disney Conservation

Rita Grolitzer

Frank and Trish Hampton

Sharon Haugh and Alexis Stein Fund

Houston Zoo

Susan Nash McClellan

Nashville Zoo

Dr. Tara S.Stoinski

Volcanoes Safaris

Julie Vehrenkamp Berryhill

Stephanie Boyé

Jodi Carrigan

Dion F. Coakley

Michael and Eileen Crowther

Melanie L. Devore

Sue Chin and Lee Ehmke

Bill and Julie Evans

Nathan and Randi Foster

Charles R. Franz

Doug and Kay Ivester

In Memory of Barney Katzman

Risë L. Moody

Steven and Lisa Pite

Clare Richardson

Michael Ross

Sandra and Steven Seidenfeld

Dave Singer

Matt and Rachel Singerman

Thoiry Zoo Safari

Gail and Robert Boyd Tober, M.D.

Josef and Dana Volman

Brandee Wagner and Eric Bischoff

Burchell and Esten Walker

Sage and Doug Wicinski

In Memory of Kent Williams

Cathy Willis and Elliott and Charlie Zorn

William E. Wockner Foundation

Michael Zeldes

In Kind Gifts provided by:

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium 

Dallas Zoo


Duncan Fabrics

National Geographic Society

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Spring Green Communications

Schüco International

Gorilla Champions

Just like the gorilla groups we protect every day, our Gorilla Champions represent an important collection of generous donors who came together to help make our new home possible. Their support is represented on our Gorilla Champions wall, which is on display at the campus.

For information on our Ellen Campus dedication please see our press kit or contact us at info@gorillafund.org .

Collaborating Partners