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Dian Fossey
Dian Fossey.jpg
Dian Fossey in November 1984
Born (1932-01-16)January 16, 1932
Died c. December 27, 1985(1985-12-27) (aged 53)
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Cause of death Murder
Resting place Karisoke Research Center
Citizenship United States
Alma mater
Known for Study and conservation of the mountain gorilla
Scientific career
Thesis The behaviour of the mountain gorilla (1976)
Doctoral advisor Robert Hinde

Dian Fossey (January 16, 1932 – December 26, 1985) was an American zoologist. She is best known for studying gorillas in Rwanda.

Fossey was inspired by a book called The Mountain Gorilla by George Schaller. Fossey studied mountain gorillas in Rwanda because of the book. When people want to get close to gorillas and get to know them they have to gain the gorillas trust. Fossey changed her lifestyle to match the gorillas’. She wanted to protect the gorillas from hunters. Hunters were trespassing on a non-hunting ground. She also wanted to protect the endangered animals in the area, even though some people didn’t agree with her ideas. She is a hero to many people for what she did to help mountain gorillas. There is a movie that was made based on what she experienced in Africa. The movie is called Gorillas in the Mist. Her book, also named Gorillas in the Mist, is the best-selling book on gorillas of all time.

She is recognized for saving mountain gorillas and starting a successful fund to help raise money for gorillas everywhere.

Early life

Fossey was born in San Francisco. She was an only child. She was very lonely as a child. Her parents divorced when she was six years old. Fossey loved animals since childhood but she was never allowed to have a pet.


She attended the University of California in Davis. At college she was in a veterinary program. She transferred schools to San Jose State University after two years. Fossey earned a bachelor degree of arts degree in occupational therapy. She became a very good horseback rider in college. She worked at a hospital in Kentucky for disabled children. Fossey was inspired by a book about mountain gorillas. She decided to travel to Africa to study gorillas. She met Louis Leakey who is a famous anthropologist. Leakey hired Fossey study gorillas for a long time. Fossey observed gorillas for many years. Fossey later earned a PhD from Cambridge College in England. The PhD was for her gorilla research.


Fossey died at 53 years old. She had been killed and was found in her cabin on December 26, 1985.

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