TORONTO – Dian Fossey, the woman who dedicated her life to studying and preserving the mountain gorilla, has been honoured on Thursday with a Google Doodle.
Jan. 16 would be Fossey’s 82nd birthday.
Fossey had an early love of animals and, in 1963, while on a six-week sabbatical in Africa, met the world-famous paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. Leakey believed that more study was needed on the great apes, and encouraged Fossey to study mountain gorillas. That meeting would change her life.
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Though Fossey first began to study the gorillas in the Congo, due to a civil war within the country she moved her study to Rwanda. In 1967, she founded the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans,about 10,000 feet above sea level.
Fossey studied and lived among the gorillas for 18 years. She faced extreme struggles, including her fear of heights, disease, torrential rains, and gorilla poachers.
Her study of the gorillas encompassed thousands of hours which contributed incredible insight into the lives of the animals.
In 1983, she published the book Gorillas in the Mist which became an international bestseller. The book was later turned into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver and achieved widespread success. But most importantly, it raised the profile of Fossey’s work at the conservation and study of the mountain gorilla.
Fossey was found hacked to death in her cabin at the age of 53 on Dec. 26, 1985, in Karisoke.