Dian Fossey's 82nd birthday celebrated by Google with gorilla doodle

Thursday, 16 January 2014 - 8:16am IST Updated: Thursday, 16 January 2014 - 4:15pm IST | Agency: dna webdesk

Fossey studied gorillas living in the mountain forests of Rwanda, Africa, in detail for over 18 years.

On Thursday, search engine Google chose to celebrate the birthday of late American zoologist Dian Fossey who would have turned 82 with a doodle paying tribute to her work in gorilla research.

Fossey was murdered in Rwanda in 1985 after fighting a long battle to protect mountain gorillas who she studied in great detail for more than 18 years in Africa.

Born in San Francisco on January 1932, Fossey was educated at the University of California. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.

In Africa in 1963, Fossey met Dr Louis Leakey, a renowned paleoanthropologist and archaeologist, who made her aware of the the lack of research on gorillas.

Fossey started studying the great ape and found out a lot of path-breaking details about them. The US national won funding from the National Geographic Society and the Wilkie Brothers’ Foundation to begin a research project in the Congo.  The political turmoil there around that time saw Fossey move the study to Rwanda.

Her work and experience contributed to her 1983 book Gorillas in the Mist. The book was made into a film by the same name in 1988, where Sigourney Weaver played Fossey. The film was nominated for five Oscars.

Watch the trailer of the film:

The zoologist spent her life saving the gorillas she studied in Africa from poachers and died for the cause. During her life she helped jail many poachers and started the Digit Fund, which she created to finance her anti-poaching patrols. This was renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International following her death.

Digit was the name of a gorilla she studied in great detail who died along with many others in 1978, trying to protect their relatives from poachers.

The Google doodle on the search engine homepage features the African mountains and gorillas that featured strongly in Fossey's life. One interesting sketch features a group of gorillas, with one touching Dian Fossey’s hair while she makes notes.

Google appears written on the homepage in the midst of gorillas, mountains, greenery and Fossey, a fitting tribute to a woman who brought forward some path breaking research on the primates and fought for animal rights in Africa.

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