A Friend of Africa's Gorillas


is the birthday of Dian Fossey, whose observations of mountain gorillas have led to a deeper understanding of their habits, communication, and social structure.

After a trip to East Africa in 1963 and her first glimpse of mountain gorillas, Fossey returned at the invitation of anthropologist Louis Leakey and established the Karisoke Research Center in 1967. She lived a solitary life in Rwanda's Virunga Mountains and gained acceptance from the gorillas, who allowed her to observe them up close.

Fossey published her findings in magazines and a book, "Gorillas in the Mist." Although her original training was in occupational therapy, she obtained a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Cambridge in 1974 and went on to teach at Cornell University. Fossey, who tried to protect the gorillas from poachers and neighboring farmers, was murdered at her campsite in 1985 at the age of 53.

[Source: Britannica Online]