Dian Fossey Facts

Dian Fossey Facts
Dian Fossey was a zoologist who became most famous for her work with the Rwandan endangered gorillas in the 1960s to the 1980s, and for her unsolved murder in 1985. She was born on January 16th, 1932, in San Francisco, California, to George E. Fossey III, an insurance professional, and Kathryn Kidd Fossey, a model. After her parents divorced Dian's mother remarried a cold businessman that didn't accept Dian well. She sought the comfort of animals. She became a horseback rider as a child and after high school graduation she started studying pre-veterinary in university. She changed her career path a few times before venturing to Africa where she established a research facility to study Rwanda's mountain gorillas.
Interesting Dian Fossey Facts:
Dian Fossey earned a B.S. in 1954 in Occupational Therapy, after changing her major from pre-veterinary.
In 1966 Dian Fossey quit working as a therapist to go to Africa to research mountain gorillas. Louis Leakey, an archaeologist she had met in Africa, offered to help pay for her research in Rwanda. He believed it would be important in studying human evolution as well.
It took eight months for Dian Fossey to get a Visa to work in Rwanda's mountains. She studied primatology and Swahili while she waited.
In 1967 Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center in the rainforests of Rwanda.
Dian Fossey said that her work with autistic children helped her prepare to gain the trust of the gorillas.
Dian Fossey lived for 18 years in the mountains in Rwanda studying mountain gorillas and working to save them from extinction.
Dian Fossey was inspired by Jane Goodall, who had studied chimpanzees for 45 years.
Dian Fossey believed that the mountain gorillas were gentle giants and that she needed to protect them.
Because the mountain gorillas were susceptible to human diseases Dian Fossey felt that human contact should be minimized.
Dian Fossey's research showed that the gorillas were very social, and had strong family bonds. They also had very individualized personalities and she got to know them very much like people.
In 1977 Dian Fossey's favorite gorilla named Digit was killed in the Rwandan mountains by poachers.
Following the death of Digit, Dian Fossey and her research assistants began to police the habitat.
Dian Fossey's attempt to stop poachers included burning poachers' camps, ambushing them, and even capturing them and humiliating them.
It is believed that Dian Fossey's attempt to stop poachers is what led to her murder. It is believed that it might have been in retaliation for her conservation efforts in regards to the gorillas and the land they called home.
In 1983 Dian Fossey's book Gorillas in the Mist was released. It became a best seller.
In 1985 Dian Fossey was murdered in her cabin. The killer(s) was never identified or prosecuted.
In 1988, three years after her murder, her best-selling book Gorillas in the Mist was made into a film.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fun International organization continues Dian's work. It was originally named the Digit Fund in honor of Dian's favorite gorilla.


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