A Future for Gorillas and Conservation
The Ellen DeGeneres Campus
of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
Visit Us at The Ellen DeGeneres Campus
Our Ellen Campus is the new home of Dian Fossey’s Karisoke Research Center and a hub for scientific research and discovery in the region. The Ellen Campus was also designed to support Rwanda’s booming ecotourism sector, which is managed by the Rwandan government. Tourism to see the gorillas plays a critical role in providing revenue for the park – allowing for more conservation efforts – and for 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 self-guided tour, have a cup of coffee and a snack at the Gorilla Café, peruse the gift shop, bird watch on the trail system, and, most importantly, learn more about our holistic approach to gorilla conservation.
Watch a tour of our exhibits at the Ellen DeGeneres campus.
Our multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to Volcanoes National Park serves as a gateway to conservation for local communities, visiting students, up-and-coming scientists and tourists from around the globe – the next generation of conservationists. It includes state-of-the-art laboratories, educational classrooms, dormitories and an interactive public exhibit that tells the story of mountain gorilla conservation. The campus also features artifacts from Dian Fossey’s time – including a re-creation of her forest cabin – as well as engaging and immersive exhibits, such as a 360-degree theater and a virtual reality experience.
Self-guided tours are available every day starting at 9 a.m., with a last entry at 4 p.m. If you would like a private weekday guided tour, please contact us for more information.
The Future of Conservation is Here
"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."
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. Over the years we grew from one person to a staff of almost 400. 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 and in February 2022, the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund opened its doors.
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.
The Impact of the Ellen Campus Construction
The Ellen Campus is the vision of 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.
To learn more about the impact of the Ellen Campus, click here.