Dian Fossey's goal in life was to save the wondrous lives of the mountain gorillas. She trusted them and they trusted her. This is her story. Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, California in 1932. She became interested in animals when she was young but her parents did not allow her to have any pets. She graduated in 1954 from San Jose State University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. In 1974 she earned a Ph.D. in zoology from Cambridge University.
In 1963 Dian took a six week trip to Africa where she met the famed Dr. Louis Leaky. He inspired her to study mountain gorillas. Fossey began carefully observing gorillas in Zaire, in 1967. Soon after, she moved to Rwanda, and there she started the Karisoke Research Center. After living there for at least 18 years among the gorillas, she earned their complete trust. She was the first person ever recorded to make contact with a gorilla, when one she called Peanuts, touched her hand. The gorillas allowed her to sit among them, watch them play, and play with them and their young. She soon became very attached to a young male gorilla whom which she called Digit, and enjoyed watching him grow and he was also very fond of her. Fossey's work changed the way animals are studied in the wild.
A few years later, Dian's beloved friend, Digit, was attacked and killed by poachers. In response, Dian started a campaign against gorilla poaching. National Geographic soon published an article about Dian Fossey and her work, which caught the attention of readers. Many people sent donations to Dian, and with this money, Dian established the Digit Fund to attract international support for gorilla conservation and dedicated her life to trying to save the mountain gorilla.
In 1980 Dian returned to America and went to work at Cornell University and started to write a book called Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned in to a movie. After finishing the book, Dian went back to Rwanda.
Sadly, on December 26, 1985, Dian was found murdered in her cabin at Karisoke. Her death has yet to be solved. Today, Dian Fossey is remembered for her work and effort. Her work has showed many people how much the mountain gorillas need our help. And hopefully, Dian Fossey will never be forgotten.
Image courtesy of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
By Dana, fourth grade, 2003
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