Dian Fossey – Gorillas in the mist

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Dian Fossey 82nd Birthday

Dian Fossey

16 January 2014 Google Doodle USA – Today if you visit Google you may be surprised to find the Dian Fossey 82nd Birthday Google Doodle on their search engine homepages. The Google Doodle is dedicated to Dian Fossey an American Zoologist with an obsession for Gorilla’s and who is mostly remembered for her primates research.

Dian Fossey alongside Jane Goodwall and Birutė Galdikas did prominent researches among primates and specifically the Gorilla Species. In Today’s Google Doodle about Dian Fossey you will see a lady like character to the far right of the images, presumably portraying Dian Fossey. In the doodle there is mountain ranges typically of her Mountain Gorilla research in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda.

Who was Dian Fossey?

For a complete overview of Dian Fossey we recommend that you read her biography on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia site provides a comprehensive article and historical glance over the life and legacy of Dian Fossey.

For more information visit Wikipedia Dian Fossey.


  • Dian Fossey were born in San Francisco, California, USA on January 16, 1932.
  • Dian Fossey died at the age of 53 in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Africa on December 6, 1985.
  • She were an American Citizen who fell in love with Africa and the Mountain Gorillas.
  • Dian Fossey studied at the Karisoke Research Center, Cornell University in the United States of America and later specialized in the fields of Ethology, primatology.
  • She received her BA Degree at the San Jose State University in the United States and also her Ph.D in Zoology in 1974 at the University of Cambridge in England in the United Kingdom.
  • Dian Fossey is world renowned for her studies and the conservation of Mountain Gorillas.
  • She were influenced by some of the world’s greatest Primatology Researchers including people like Jane Goodall, Louis Leakey, George Schaller.

The Murder of Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey

Fossey was discovered murdered in the bedroom of her cabin in Virunga Mountains, Rwanda, in late December 1985. She was discovered 2 metres (7 ft) away from a hole that her assailant(s) had apparently cut in the wall of the cabin.

On the night of Dian Fossey’s murder, a metal sheeting from her bedroom was removed at the only place of the bedroom where it would not have been obstructed by her furniture, which supports the case that the murder was committed by someone who was familiar with the cabin and her day-to-day activities. The sheeting of her cabin, which was normally securely locked at night, might also have been removed after the murder to make it appear as if the killing was the work of outsiders.

Six months before her murder, AP East Africa Correspondent Barry Shlachter quoted Dian Fossey in one of her last interviews as saying that she was habituating gorillas only to whites because blacks were the poachers.

They said Rwandans whom she suspected of poaching had been stripped and beaten with stinging nettles by Dian Fossey, who removed their animist amulets, set fire to one villager’s home and kidnapped their child, holding the little girl hostage for days.

This extreme case of Dian Fossey’s vengeance, combined with reports of the torture of poachers, triggered real concern from conservationists and Rwandan officials about Dian Fossey’s mental stability and responsibility as a research center director.

After her murder, Dian Fossey’s National Geographic editor, Mary Smith, told Shlachter that the famed gorilla expert on visits to the United States would “load up on firecrackers, cheap toys and magic tricks as part of her method to mystify the (Africans) and to hold them at bay.”

Gorillas in the Mist



Universal Studios bought the film rights to Gorillas in the Mist from Dian Fossey in 1985, and Warner Bros. Studios bought the rights to the Hayes article, despite its having been severely criticized by Rosamond Carr. As a result of a legal battle between the two studios, a co-production was arranged.

Portions of Gorillas in the Mist and the Hayes article were adapted for Gorillas in the Mist, starring Sigourney Weaver. The book covers Dian Fossey’s scientific career in great detail and omits material on her personal life, such as her affair with photographer Bob Campbell. In the film, the affair with Campbell (played by Bryan Brown) forms a major subplot.

The Hayes article preceding the movie portrayed Dian Fossey as a woman obsessed with gorillas, who would stop at nothing to protect them. The film includes scenes of Dian Fossey’s ruthless dealings with poachers, including a scene in which she sets fire to a poacher’s home.

Conclusion Dian Fossey

Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the life and legacy of Dian Fossey it was interesting to read and learn more about Dian Fossey and the research and conservation she did. Without people like Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey all gorillas may have become extinct!

Today the Rhino is also facing extinction and it is recommended that you read about Rhino Poaching and the threat Rhinos are facing. May today’s Google Doodle not only raise awareness of Dian Fossey and her conservation efforts and initiatives with Gorilla’s but may today also raise awareness for other animals in distress who may become extinct in the near future!

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