Dian Fossey

by Benjamin from San Francisco

“The man who kills the animals today is the man who kills the people who get in his way tomorrow.” Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, California, in the year of 1932. Dian had a love for animals at a very young age but she was only allowed to have a goldfish when she was growing up.

Dian started college in 1949 at Marin Junior College. She started out with studying business, but her real love was animals. In 1950, Dian enrolled as a preveterinary medical student at the University of California. Dian did very well in zoology and botany courses, but her classes chemistry and physics forced her to fail out of school her second year. After graduation from San Jose State, Dian worked as an occupational therapist at Kosair Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Dian became close friends with the administrator of the hospital and was the invited on a trip to Africa.

After working hard and saving for three years, Dian finally had enough money for her to travel to Africa. She took a flight to Tanzania and researched Dr. Leaky. After she talked with Leaky for very short time, she was on her way to find mountain gorillas.

In 1996 Dian set up camp in Congo but was forced out and moved to Rwanda. She started the Karisoke Research Center, which she directed from 1967 until 1980. There she began studying and observing gorillas. She lived and studied there for 18 years. She did something that nobody had ever done before; she had contact with a gorilla. From then on she earned their trust and was allowed to play and touch them. Later that year, she established the Digit Fund and dedicated her life to protecting the mountain gorillas. This fund was created for her favorite gorilla Digit. Within the next few years Digit and Dian grew very close. Unfortunately, like all good things, their relationship came to an end. On December 13, 1977 Digit died defending his family. The poachers took his hands, feet, and head as prized possessions and to sell in the black market for money. This lead Dian to start an anti-poaching campaign.

Starting this campaign made Dian a major target for poachers. On December 26, 1985 Dian was found dead, murdered in her cabin. No one has ever found her killer or any clues to link to the killer. But one thing is for sure, Dian did not die in vain. Her name lives on through all the efforts to save the mountain gorillas.

Page created on 6/6/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/6/2010 12:00:00 AM

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