Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Kinigi, Rwanda

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The Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund opened its doors in February 2022 with a new location and beautiful new campus designed by MASS. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund continues the work that was started by its visionary founder in 1967. When Fossey arrived in Rwanda, the mountain gorilla population in Volcanoes National Park was down to 240, and today estimates are at 1000+ combining the populations in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda. While on campus you can visit the public exhibit in the Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery on a self-guided tour, but it is highly recommended to opt for the behind-the-scenes tour with a senior staff member of the fund as your guide.

First in the gallery, you will learn the history of Dian Fossey, see personal artifacts (there is even a replica of her cabin in the forest) and you will also learn about the region's biodiversity and gorilla conservation, of course. There's a 360-degree theater, as well as many interactive components to the visit from a gorilla chat 'game' which is great for kids as you learn about the different sounds gorillas make and then test your ability to match them (including a gorilla quiz so you can test to see which gorilla you are most like). On the behind-the-scenes tour, you are talking with a guide through the public exhibit and, through the stories that the guide will add, you will hear about gorilla conversation in a new light. On the VIP tours, you're then also taken into one of the research labs at the campus. Visitors also have the opportunity to sign up for Silverback Sundowners where you are invited to first tour the public exhibit and then meet up with one of the fund's gorilla experts in the Virunga Overlook to share experiences and speak with staff to learn more about the fund's efforts and the challenges it faces today.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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