The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Enters a New Era of Conservation with the Dedication of its Ellen DeGeneres Campus
“The Ellen campus represents a huge expansion of our teaching and laboratory space, allowing us to not only increase but transform our programs to study gorillas and their critical forest habitat and provide educational opportunities for early-stage African scientists. career and members of the local community,says Félix Ndagijimana, director of Rwandan programs at the Fossey Fund.
The Ellen campus is also designed to support the ecotourism sector in Rwanda. Run by the Rwandan government, tourism to see the gorillas plays a vital role in providing revenue for the park as well as supporting local communities through employment and revenue sharing. Visitors to the Ellen Campus can immerse themselves in an interactive and educational exhibit located in the Cindy Broder Curatorial Gallery. Designed to tell the story of mountain gorilla research and conservation from Fossey’s time to the present day, it includes original never-before-displayed artifacts from nearly two decades of Dian Fossey’s life among gorillas, stunning visuals through an immersive 360-degree experience, as well as augmented and virtual reality and plenty of edutainment opportunities to learn about the science and, most importantly, the people behind successful gorilla conservation of Mountain. Support from many generous donors contributed to the project, including actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, who named the 360 Degree Theater for his mother, Irmelin DiCaprio, and a computer lab for his father, George DiCaprio.
“The Ellen Campus shows how new infrastructure can be a boon for species conservation and protection,” said Michael Murphy, Founder and Executive Director of MASS Design Group. “With the prioritization of local labor for construction, furniture created by Rwandan artisans, and environmental stewardship, the campus will inspire a generation of conservation activists in Rwanda. It also signals to global ecologists new ways to link ecosystems and communities to each other.
Other partners that contribute to the overall campus experience include:
- Aziz’s life
- Bob Campbell Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
- Falcon Creative Group
- food and stuff
- Formula D
- Habitat XR
- internet of elephants
- National Geographic Society
The Ellen Campus is open to visitors beginning February 1, 2022. For more information or to book a private tour, contact [email protected]. To learn more, visit: gorillafund.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @savinggorillas.