Ted Turner Donates $1 Million to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
ATLANTA, Georgia, March 7, 2012 (ENS) – Philanthropist, environmentalist and CNN founder Ted Turner tonight announced his contribution of $1 million to the Atlanta-based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which works to save endangered gorillas in Rwanda and eastern Congo.
At a special event at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta tonight, Turner also issued a challenge, urging others to open their hearts – and their bank accounts – and also support the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
Dr. Dian Fossey was an American zoologist who conducted an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years in the mountain forests of Rwanda’s Virunga National Park. She was murdered there in 1985; the case remains open. Her work and her murder were the subject of the 1988 motion picture “Gorillas in the Mist.”
In announcing his donation tonight, Turner expressed pride that the Fossey Fund is based at Zoo Atlanta in his hometown, and praised the work the organization does in Africa through the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, founded by Fossey in 1967.
The Fossey Fund’s work in Rwanda has resulted in the mountain gorilla being the only ape species whose numbers are increasing. But gorillas in Congo have received little protection and their numbers are plummeting.
“I’ve been involved in the environmental movement for a long time. And working to protect these wonderful creatures is part of that equation,” Turner said tonight.
“When we lose one species – as we do too frequently in our over-crowded, over-polluted world, we lose part of ourselves,” he said. “I can’t think of a more important effort than protecting our world, our globe, our environment – and that includes protecting those who inhabit it, including the gorillas of Africa.”
“We may live on the opposite side of the planet from Africa, but what happens there can and will affect what happens here – and all around our fragile planet,” Turner said.
Clare Richardson, president and CEO of the Fossey Fund, said, “The Fossey Fund is very fortunate indeed to have the kind of support that Ted Turner is providing. It is made even more notable because his contribution comes just after the 80th anniversary of Dian Fossey’s birth.”
“The work she began in 1967 has never stopped, and we have made great gains in recent years,” said Richardson. “But the challenges have never stopped either, and with this wonderful contribution, we can begin to export our expertise to other gorilla populations in need, such as in Congo.”
The Karisoke Research Center currently employs more than 100 staff members. Over half are involved in research, protection and monitoring of the gorillas. Others are engaged in biodiversity and socioeconomic research, education, health, and administration activities.
“It comes down to this,” Turner said, “every single gorilla counts; every single person counts in protecting the gorillas; and every single dollar counts in supporting the work to protect the gorillas. That is why tonight I am announcing my contribution of $1 million to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. It is my hope that this money will allow the Fossey Fund to not only continue the great work they do now – and have done for many years – but to expand that work and make it possible to do much more – for the gorillas, for the people, and for the environment in which they all make their home.”
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Founded by Fossey as the Digit Fund and renamed after her death, the Fossey Fund operates the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, and maintains a staff of scientists, trackers and anti-poaching patrols in Volcanoes National Park.
The Fund also works with community-managed reserves and national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and operates extensive education, health and other community outreach programs.