Television superstar Ellen DeGeneres is going to build a Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Campus

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Ellen DeGeneres, a well-known American comedian, television personality and actor received an incredibly generous gift from her wife, Portia de Rossi, to build a facility in Rwanda to further Dian Fossey’s work in protecting critically endangered mountain gorillas.

During the comedian’s 60th birthday celebration, Portia de Rossi appeared on the Ellen Show and surprised her wife with a special birthday present, a donation to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to create a permanent home in Rwanda for the organization that has been protecting endangered mountain gorillas for 50 years.

Portia de Rossi(L) presenting the gift to Ellen DeGeneres(R) on “The Ellen Show. Photo: The Ellen Show.

"It's your 60th birthday and this gift had to be really special and it had to represent who you are and what you really care about. Not just now, but what you've always cared about. What you were influenced by and what has made you the amazing person that you are today.  So, for your birthday, Ellen, I am bringing you and your hero, Dian, together by building The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.  Ellen, you will carry on Dian's legacy by giving them a permanent home in Rwanda. While empowering the people living near the gorillas to thrive in relationship to their own ecosystem.  Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals, the mountain gorillas. Happy birthday!" said de Rossi.

The Campus will help expand science, research and conservation activities, enhance educational programs, and engage people from Rwanda and the world to join the effort on behalf of wild gorillas. Its design will include laboratories, classrooms, meeting space, an interactive exhibit focusing on Fossey's work, and housing for visiting researchers and students.

In addition, de Rossi set up The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund (, whose goal is to protect and advocate for the world’s most vulnerable animals and wildlife. The campus will be the first initiative of the fund.

DeGeneres is expected to be in Rwanda this summer together with de Rossi, according to the information published on her official website.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGFI) and Karisoke Research Center are founding members of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management’s Technical Advisory Committee.  A Government of Rwanda institution hosted at the University of Rwanda, the Center (CoEB) is devoted to generating and communicating knowledge of biodiversity and natural resource management for sustainable development in Rwanda and the region. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund through the Karisoke Research Center has contributed greatly to increasing the research capacity of University of Rwanda conservation biology students for many years, and the CoEB looks forward to continued collaboration with Karisoke Research Center and DFGFI through the expanded opportunities the new The Ellen DeGeneres Campus will offer. This new campus will be a great contribution to Rwanda’s capacity to contribute to the conservation of mountain gorillas and another biodiversity.

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for her extensive work on mountain gorillas.  Fossey, who died in 1985, is one of DeGeneres' heroes.  Photo: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International