9 Things To Know About Dian Fossey

Posted: 1/16/2014 7:44:37 EST

Celebrate today's Google Doodle by learning more about the woman who did more than any other to protect the mountain gorillas of Rwanda from extinction:

1. She Lived With Gorillas For 18 Years In Rwanda

Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center in 1967 in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. From then on, she would spend the vast majority of her time there living among the mountain gorillas.

2. She Was Mentored By Louis Leakey

Born in England, Leakey was instrumental in establishing that mankind's evolutionary descent began in Africa.

3. She Was Inspired by Jane Goodall

The world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall spent 45-years studying them in Tanzania and was actually able to get herself accepted into a chimpanzee troop by living amongst them for years. 

4. She Wrote The Memoir "Gorillas in the Mist" Which Later Became A Major Motion Picture Staring Sigourney Weaver

5. At First She Concentrated On The Scientific Study Of Gorillas

Most of Fossey's contributions were made during her early years and revolved around her extensive study of gorilla society and its rules, rituals, and structures.

6. But In 1977 Her Favorite Gorilla Digit Was Murdered By Poachers

7. From Then On It Was War

After Digit's death, her and her assistants started going out on armed patrols around the gorilla habitat. They would ambush poachers, capture poachers, humiliate poachers, burn their camps, and steal their cattle. All of this made Fossey a much more controversial figure, with some seeing her as an animal rights hero while others argued she had become an increasingly unstable fanatic. There were even allegations by the end that her defense of the gorillas had begun to take on a substantial racial element.

8. On December 26th, 1985 Fossey Was Murdered In Her Cabin

Pictured: Her cabin which still stands at the Karisoke Research Center. Exactly who it was that killed Fossey is unknown. Some have suspected her own former assistants, others the Rwandan government whose leaders were deeply involved in gorilla tourism and poaching, both of which Fossey vehemently fought.

9. She Was Buried Beside Digit

Knowing that she would prefer the company of gorillas over that of human beings in the after-life the same as she had in this life, Fossey was buried right beside the grave she had dug in 1977 for her favorite gorilla.



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