Dian Fossey Biography
Dian Fossey Biography
Dian Fossey Biography
Dian Fossey Biography
Dian Fossey Biography
Dian Fossey Biography

Dian Fossey Biography

Influential Animal Right Activist

Dian Fossey

Born: January 16, 1932 (San Francisco, California, U.S.)

Known for: Study and Conservation of the Mountain Gorilla

Institutions: Karisoke Research Center | Cornell University

Thesis: The Behaviour of the Mountain Gorilla

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Who is Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey (January 16, 1932 – c. December 26, 1985) was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her murder in 1985. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. Gorillas in the Mist, a book published two years before her death, is Fossey's account of her scientific study of the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center and prior career. It was adapted into a 1988 film of the same name. Fossey was a leading primatologist, and a member of the "Trimates", a group of female scientists recruited by Leakey to study great apes in their natural environments, along with Jane Goodall who studies chimpanzees, and Biruté Galdikas, who studies orangutans. Fossey spent 20 years in Rwanda, where she supported conservation efforts, strongly opposed poaching and tourism in wildlife habitats, and made more people acknowledge the sapience of gorillas. Following the killing of a gorilla and subsequent tensions, she was murdered in her cabin at a remote camp in Rwanda in December 1985. Although Fossey's American research assistant was convicted in absentia, there is no consensus as to who killed her. Her research and conservation work helped reduce the downward population trend in mountain gorillas.

Early Life

Fossey was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Hazel, a fashion model, and George Edward Fossey III, a real estate agent and business owner. Her parents divorced when she was six. Her mother remarried the following year, to businessman Richard Price. Her father tried to keep in contact, but her mother discouraged it, and all contact was subsequently lost. Fossey's stepfather, Richard Price, never treated her as his own child. He would not allow Fossey to sit at the dining room table with him or her mother during dinner. A man adhering to strict discipline, Richard Price offered Fossey little to no emotional support. Although, by 1950, Richard and Hazel would relocate with Dian to Marin County, the same county where her father George Fossey, now married to Mrs. Gladys Bove (née Kohler), resided. Struggling with personal insecurity, Fossey turned to animals as a way to gain acceptance. Her love for animals began with her first pet goldfish and continued throughout her entire life. At age six, she began riding horses, earning a letter from her school; by her graduation in 1954, Fossey had established herself as an equestrienne.

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