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Unique exhibit at Karisoke now open to public

August 2, 2016

New exhibit at Karisoke provides interactive look at gorilla conservation

The Karisoke Research Center, founded by Dr. Dian Fossey almost 50 years ago, has been housed in a variety of facilities over the years and is currently located in a large office building in the Rwandan town of Musanze, outside Volcanoes National Park where the gorillas live.

young students

This summer, after several years of planning and construction, Fossey Fund staff have created an exciting exhibit space at the Karisoke building. It is now open to the public and provides a variety of information, photographs, videos, historic objects and interactive activities about gorilla conservation and our work.

The Karisoke exhibit has been designed to complement the experience of gorilla-trekking that draws many visitors to Rwanda, and is also meant to help enhance the Fossey Fund’s expanding conservation education programs for local students and the surrounding community. What’s in the exhibit:

The Karisoke exhibit consists of seven sections:
* Gorillas: Overview, behavior, life history of mountain gorillas
* Dian Fossey and the history of Karisoke
* Conservation and challenges
* Biodiversity: Other animals and plants in the forest
* Working with local communities
* The Virunga mountains
* Grauer’s gorillas in eastern Congo

All of the exhibit’s sections include panels and posters are filled with information and photos, and many also include iPads with videos, photos and additional information. For those who want to learn more about gorillas, the gorilla section includes not only detailed information about gorillas, such as diet, behavior, and social structure, but also skeletal models and audio recordings of gorilla vocalizations.

The Dian Fossey section includes original artifacts from Fossey’s cabin and a variety of historic photos, while actual snares can be seen in the conservation section. The biodiversity section includes skulls of buffalo, bushbuck and duiker, as well as an elephant jaw.

The most “high-tech” section of the exhibit is the “Virtual Virungas,”which was built in collaboration with the Center for GIS and Imagine Lab, in the College of Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is a 3D model of the volcanic Virunga mountains, using satellite imagery projected onto a bed of sand, while a variety of controls are used to apply historic mountain gorilla ranging data and topographic maps, showing how the gorillas’ habitat and ranging have changed over time.

The Karisoke exhibit is currently open to the public Monday-Friday from 2- 4 p.m. and is available for guided tours by appointment.