Construction work on the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has started, with completion set for early 2021.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the project located in Kinigi sector, Musanze district was held on February 12.
Currently, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund operates its programmes from a rented office building in Musanze, which does not have adequate and appropriate space for all its activities and is located about 30 kilometres from Volcanoes National Park, where the organisation’s work takes place.
The new ecologically friendly campus will be adjacent to the park and will have state-of-the art laboratories; a computer lab and library; flexible office and meeting space; classrooms for educational programmes; an exhibition room and housing for visiting researchers and students.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund started with the founding of the Karisoke Research Centre by Dr Fossey in 1967. With 130 employees in the country, it is the world’s largest and longest-running organisation focused entirely on gorilla conservation. In addition to daily gorilla protection and research, the Fossey Fund also supports more than 14,000 Rwandans each year through community-based programmes.
Portia de Rossi attended the event on behalf of herself and Ellen DeGeneres. Also in attendance were national and local government officials, Fossey Fund staff and board members, community leaders and local organisations.
“I am so proud that we are finally able to build a permanent home for our important gorilla conservation work,” said Felix Ndagijimana, who heads the Fossey Fund’s programmes in Rwanda.
“We are especially grateful to the Rwandan government and all the partners who have worked to protect gorillas and this important forest in Volcanoes National Park and thus helped make this new facility a reality,” said Fossey Fund president and chief scientific officer Tara Stoinski.
“The Ellen Fund is honoured to support the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in their dream of finding a permanent home in Rwanda".
The new campus will help the gorillas and the surrounding community,” said Portia de Rossi, director of The Ellen Fund.