Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas

Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas

life dian fossey
Fossey spent his entire adult life researching gorillas in Rwanda.

Another legend in the field of biology and primatology is Dian Fossey . Like Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey was inspired by Louis Leakey to study primates in Africa. However, for Fossey, it wasn’t the chimps, but the gorillas!

Dian Fossey was born in 1932 in San Francisco and from a young age developed a love for all kinds of animals. After his formative years, he fulfilled his lifelong dream by embarking on a journey to Africa to discover exotic animals such as giraffes, chimpanzees, zebras, elephants, etc. At the end of Fossey’s trip to Africa, he met Louis Leakey in Tanzania.

After a few years, he encouraged her to permanently move to Africa to study gorillas. Dian Fossey decided to establish her research base in the Virunga region of Rwanda, where she spent the rest of her life observing gorillas in their natural habitat.

What exactly did Fossey discover about gorillas?

  • Gorilla family relationships are strong:  Mountain gorillas gather in groups and are very close to their families. Fossey also discovered that the maternal bond between a mother and her offspring is very close. And like humans, Fossey found that good mothers help raise healthy and balanced children.
  • Daily activities:  Mountain gorillas spend most of the day looking for food, an activity that all members of the group do. At night, gorillas rest in “night nests” made of branches and leaves.
  • Gorillas can sympathize with humans –  Dian Fossey was very brave in getting that close to gorillas and socializing with them regularly. Thus he discovered that gorillas could be comfortable with humans, even the most dominant males.
  • Gorillas Are Playful: Through her observations, Fossey also discovered that gorillas are very playful and funny. Gorillas often tickled and played like children. 

Dian Fossey’s research and observations on mountain gorillas are still considered important, as she made great strides in primatology. Much of what we know about gorillas today is due to their entire life’s work. Fossey had a special bond with a gorilla named Digit, whom he closely watched for more than a decade before poachers killed him.

In the last years of his life, Fossey devoted much attention to raising awareness of the sad reality of poaching in Africa. Many experts and close friends of Dian Fossey believe that her outspoken and utter disregard for poachers led to her untimely murder in December 1985. Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas

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