STORIES
Earthkeepers

Dian Fossey

by Maria from Williamsville

Dian Fossey on the cover (insearchofsimplicity.com (National Geographic))
Dian Fossey on the cover (insearchofsimplicity.com (National Geographic))

Dian Fossey is a hero for many reasons. One reason is because she cared for gorillas and tried to stop poachers. She treated gorillas like family. She admitted, "I feel more comfortable with gorillas than people. I can anticipate what a gorilla's going to do and they're purely motivated." She increased the number of gorillas in the wild, due to her efforts. If she hadn't helped gorillas, they would be even more endangered or maybe even extinct. She is an animal hero.

Dian Fossey's childhood was not very happy. She was born during the Great Depression, in 1932. Her family hardly had any food to eat. She was born on January 16th, in San Francisco. She loved animals, but she could never have a pet. Her parents got divorced in 1935. After they divorced, she finally got a pet. She could not have a cat or a dog because they were too big, so she got a fish. She loved her fish and took very good care of it. When her fish died, she cried for a very long time. When she was older, she wanted to be a veterinarian so she went to college for it, but failed out of college. She only failed because she also had to master other classes, like organic chemistry and animal anatomy. Her parents really wanted her to go to college for business, but she refused to.

Dian had many accomplishments in her field. She went to Africa to study mountain gorillas. Her field of study, or area, was Karisoke, the mountain she lived on. Every day she went over to the gorilla habitats and took hundreds of notes on the big apes. When she was not in Africa with gorillas, she worked in a children's hospital. She lived in a small house and lived like a normal person. She helped a ton of little children that were sick or hurt. Another accomplishment was being on the cover of National Geographic. The picture on the cover was her with a gorilla named Peanuts. This was the first human making contact with a wild gorilla. There was also another picture of her in the magazine with Coco and Puker. In 1971, Fossey finished the first part of her doctoral courses at college. Dian finally earned her doctoral degree, and soon after became known as "Professor Fossey". A huge accomplishment that she earned was a book and a movie all about her life. The movie was based on the book. They were called Gorillas in the Mist.

Dian Fossey is recognized for many things. She is recognized for being the first person to interact and be touched by a wild mountain gorilla. She is also known for being the first woman to stop many gorilla poachers. She is known for her love for gorillas. No one loved gorillas as much as she did. She also saved many gorillas from dying. Thanks to her, mountain gorillas are not extinct (but there are only around 300 left).

I learned from Dian Fossey that, if you have a dream, you can do it if you work hard and really try, because she always wanted to do something with animals. After, she pretty much ended up living with gorillas. Also, it taught me that you really can make a difference with animals or people. That is what I learned and what some other people might have learned from her.

Dian Fossey had many obstacles and challenges. When she got to Africa, she had to climb up the mountain that she would live on. Her ribs hurt and she couldn't feel her legs. She wrote, "My rib cage was bursting, my legs were creaking in agony and my ankle felt as though a crocodile has his jaws around it." When she got to the top, she saw some poachers. Poachers are people who kill animals and sell them. This was illegal, but they did it anyways. The poachers killed gorillas and sold their hands and heads. She tried to stop the poachers, but the people of Africa didn't want her to because it developed food and money for their state and continent. Sometimes she even got sent back to the United States, for trying to stop them. When she wanted to leave the United States behind, her mom did not agree. She left without any blessings from them. Not only did her parents think it was a very bad idea for a woman with no gorilla experience, the people who knew Leaky thought he was crazy to send her. She went anyways. When she was in Africa at the time, it was very dangerous. There was a civil war going on there. There were soldiers there, and they said she had to leave because many innocent people had been killed. She did not leave but was furious that they would have tried to get her out of where she was just trying to peacefully study gorillas. She also had to take care of two baby gorillas. She was okay with the idea, other than the fact that they would be shipped to the zoo after. They were two sick gorillas, named Coco and Pucker. Dian was devastated when she had to give them up to the zoo. She was also very angry that the poachers took two baby gorillas from their mothers and sold them to the zoo. They would have to live in cages, until they died. They both died two years after they arrived at the zoo. She thought they were lucky that they did not have to live at the zoo anymore. She also faced the death of one of her favorite gorillas, Digit. Digit's head and hands were cut off by poachers. She buried him, but was still very angry and sad. After Digit died, she started a fund called the Digit Fund. This fund was made to raise money for gorillas like Digit, to help stop the poachers. She struggled but did not succeed in this. Most of the money she raised went to the people of Africa. She gained less than half of the money. Then Dian had a new enemy. These were the people who came to look at the gorillas. This was called "ecotourism". Now everyone would be disrupting her work to come snap some pictures of gorillas. Dian also had many health problems. She smoked a ton and started to cough a lot more than she should. She didn't want to stop working so she ignored her health. The last problem she faced was her own death. She was murdered, but it is still a mystery of who killed her. Her funeral was on December 31, 1985. She was buried right next to where she buried Digit, the gorilla.

Page created on 12/10/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/10/2011 12:00:00 AM

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