Portia de Rossi names gorilla sanctuary in Rwanda after wife Ellen DeGeneres

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres grew up idolizing Dian Fossey.

She pored through National Geographic magazines featuring the celebrated primatologist’s work with gorillas in Rwanda. She tore through her famous book Gorillas in the Mist. She mourned in 1985 when Fossey was murdered in her cabin.

Now, as DeGeneres turns 60, her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, surprised her with the most wonderful present.

The building of the Ellen DeGeneres Center of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund focused on education, research and tourism initiatives. De Rossi also set up the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund.

The scope of the presents left the normally irreverent host temporarily speechless.

“When we got married, Portia’s line was, ‘It’s good to be loved. It’s profound to be understood. And she understands me,” DeGeneres said during her show. “Because that is the best gift anybody could have given me.”

The show as filmed last week, but only aired Feb. 1.

Grab the tissues.

The folks who are continuing Fossey’s legacy are over the moon.

There are perhaps 880 mountain gorillas left in the world.

Threatened by habitat destruction and poaching, the species is critically endangered.

“It’s impossible to overstate what this news means for us,” Tara Stoinski, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We have continued Dian’s legacy for 50 years, and this new campus will serve as a brilliant focal point for our efforts protect wild gorillas over the next decades.”

A pay-it-forward gift like no other.

And DeGeneres is still almost at a loss for words.

Fossey, no doubt, would be proud.

In her final journal, Fossey wrote: “When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future.”

Dian Fossey photographed with a gorilla named Digit in May, 1977. Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Main photo The Ellen Show/YouTube

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.