Google created a doodle to celebrate Dian Fossey who would have been 82. Fossey was extraordinary by any standard. She committed her life to studying and protecting the mountain gorillas in Rawanda. She was killed in her cabin in 1983.
Her autobiography Gorillas In The Mist became a movie starring Sigourney Weaver.
Fossey dreamed about becoming a veterinarian when she growing up in California. In 1963, she took a six-week sabbatical from San Jose College and went to Africa. The experience changed everything for her. She met Dr. Louis and Mary Leakey and the couple encouraged her to stay and study the wild gorillas.
She set up camp in the Congo, which was then called Zaire. And within three years, she had made enough progress to attract financial support from the National Geographic Society and the Wilkie Brothers’ Foundation.
But the brutal political upheaval in the country forced Fossey to move her study to Rwanada’s Parc National Des Volcans.
It was beautiful and challenging. She lived 10,000 feet above sea level between two volcanoes and battled her fear of heights, disease, rain, poachers and political violence.
Fossey’s commitment was rewarded when a male Gorilla she called Peanuts touched her hand. This was the first recorded peaceful gorilla to human contact, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
She developed a strong relationship with a young male gorilla she named Digit. After poachers killed Digit in 1977, Fossey stepped up her crusade to protect the gorillas. National Geographic and other magazines ran stories about her struggle and the coverage attracted international attention.
If Dian Fossey had lived we’re sure she would have continue to inspire us with her work and determination. She would have been a perfect subject for our new web video series Living! featuring people over 80 who live vital lives.