The Creation of the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund

Kaya Squirewell

Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian and television host well-known for her popular show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She is constantly doing good things for the world and community, but one thing she has done recently stands out from the rest.

On January 29th of last year, Ellen turned 60 years old. Ellen’s wife, Portia de Rossi, gave her the best gift ever: Degeneres’s own wildlife fund to help support other organizations working on wildlife conservation. These other wildlife groups inspired Portia to create an organization that is now called the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The campus will have the Karisoke Research Center, which was founded by Dian Fossey in 1967.

The creation of this organization was inspired by Dian Fossey. According to her wife, when DeGeneres was younger, she has always said if their was anyone she would want to interview, it would be Dian Fossey. She became more fascinated by Fossey’s work as she began to grasp the information from the cover story of Fossey in National Geographic, explaining how she had set up a research camp in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda in 1967. Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center with two tents set up in the forest. Fossey was then brutally murdered in 1985 in her mountain cabin, but her work still continues through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Dian Fossey dedicated her life to study several mountain gorillas for decades. Mountain gorillas are one of the most endangered animals on earth. Her life’s work was dedicated to the protection of these animals. Now, DeGeneres is honoring Fossey’s legacy and securing the future of the work she helped to build.

“I’ve always been passionate about helping animals,” DeGeneres said. “Nobody knows this more than my wife, and she knew the exact right gift to give me. These gorillas are so incredible and so closely linked to us, sharing 98 percent of our DNA. There are only 880 of these majestic creatures left on this planet. I’m beyond excited to get to work with the Fossey Fund to support their work and help protect these amazing animals.”

The Fossey Fund is the world’s longest-running and largest organization. “We have continued Dian’s legacy for 50 years, and this new campus will serve as a brilliant focal point for our efforts protect wild gorillas over the next decades,” said president and CEO, Tara Stoinski. 

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund are two separate organizations with the same goal: to save and preserve the mountain gorilla. “Ellen, you will carry on Dian’s legacy by giving them [the mountain gorillas] a permanent home in Rwanda,” de Rossi said. “Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals.”

Today, the number of mountain gorillas is rising–twice as much as when Fossey began her research. The future is bright for these majestic animals.