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Some villagers thought Dian Fossey was a witch!

She was known to interrogate poachers and try to scare them in various ways. For example, she purchased masks and pretended to use black magic so that locals would think she was a witch and would leave the gorillas in peace. She was nicknamed “the witch of the Virungas” by some of the people in nearby villages.


How you can dress up as Dian Fossey!

Need a last minute costume idea? We’ve got you covered! You can easily dress up as Dian Fossey or a field researcher! All you need is a hat, khaki shirt, cargo pants, hiking boots, binoculars, a pad of paper, and a pencil! If you have long hair, you can put it in a side braid – a classic Dian Fossey style!

If you’re really feeling in character, make a data sheet and record some of the behaviors of the ghouls and ghosts (or animals) around you! You can find a pre-made datasheet here!


Gorilla skull

Gorillas have a long ridge of bone that runs down the middle of their skull. This ridge is especially prominent in adult male gorillas. The sagittal crest is an attachment point for jaw muscles, and you will see this bone ridge in many animals that have strong jaw muscles. Modern-day humans don’t have sagittal crests, making our heads flat in comparison to gorillas.

Teeth – While gorilla teeth may look big and scary in comparison to human teeth, the gorilla’s long and sharp incisors and canines are to tear plants – not meat! They also have flat molars to help grind food down, aiding in digestion. Their enlarged canines are also used in displays directed at other gorillas.


Gorillas aren’t as terrifying as the movies portray them!

You may have learned about gorillas through movies like King Kong and Planet of the Apes. These movies portray gorillas differently than they are in real life. King Kong may have you fearing even normal-sized gorillas, however gorillas are nicknamed “gentle giants”! Even though silverbacks can weight up to 450 pounds, and are much stronger than the average human, that doesn’t mean they’re always using this strength. Gorillas are generally passive animals and will only be aggressive if they feel threatened.


You can visit Dian and Digit’s grave.

If you ever visit Rwanda, be sure to stop by and visit our Karisoke exhibit! You can participate in a gorilla trek and even hike to where both Dian Fossey and Digit are buried. To see Fossey’s grave, you must go on a challenging multi-hour hike. However, it is a great way to pay your respects and think about how just one person, including yourself, can leave a lasting impact on the world and a species.