www.whyville.net Mar 23, 2000 Weekly Issue

Dian Fossey

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     Auntie M stands in for Lois Lee this week with an important scientist from this century, for a change.

by Auntie M
Guest Columnist

Dian Fossey
Cool girl scientist

Dian Fossey had a dream. She dreamt that one day she would visit the mountains of Africa to study gorillas. In 1963 Dian made her dream come true and left the United States behind to move to Africa. While there she met other scientits who studied chimpanzees, but Dian wanted to study gorillas. She hiked through jungles and climbed over huge mountains to get to a family of gorillas deep in the Congo jungle.

No one had ever been able to get very close to these gorillas. They are huge animals! But, Dian was not afraid. She learned to immitate gorilla behavior so well that this family of gorillas accepted her as one of their own. Dian became very close to her new friends and even wrote a book about what she had learned about gorilla families. She called her book, "Gorillas in the Mist". This movie was eventually made into a movie.

Dian had to be very careful in Africa. Illegal hunters, called poachers, wanted to capture the gorillas to either kill the animals (because their hands and feet sell for high prices) or send them to zoos. Dian fought to protect the gorillas, even though she was threatened repeatedly by poachers.

Dian refused to be scared and continued to study the mountain gorillas of Africa and publish all that she learned. Her bravery has led to a new understanding of gorillas, one of our closest cousins in the animal kingdom.

Dian was killed by poachers in 1985.

Dian Fossey in the midst of gorillas
(Courtesy of Lindsay Munro, Stanford University)


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