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A Campus for Gorilla Conservation

The Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund


The Ellen Fund’s first goal is to help secure a future for wild mountain gorillas by building The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund a permanent home.

It’s officially called “The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund,” and Portia de Rossi explained it best at the groundbreaking ceremony on February 12, 2019:

“Many years ago, my wife, Ellen, told me how as a little girl, in New Orleans, Louisiana, she came across the National Geographic with Dian Fossey on the cover. Seeing that brave American woman, a scientist, who left her comfortable life to set up a tent in the Rwandan forest to save a species on the brink of extinction, was transformative for Ellen. It made her see the world differently, and her place within it. Learning about this passionate, committed biologist, and the impact one person can have, was the catalyst for Ellen becoming who she is today—a trailblazer—just like her hero, Dian.

Campus images courtesy of MASS Design Group

(c) 2019 Aaron Pinkston

“I am here because it was my dream to link my wife, Ellen, to her hero in a significant and lasting way. My dream aligned with a 15 year dream of the Fossey Fund Leadership to build a permanent home in Rwanda. And so the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will be Karisoke’s permanent home....

“...It is my hope that the campus will serve as a catalyst, to encourage us to dream bigger, to know that we too can make an impact and that all of us can become trailblazers—just like Ellen and Dian.”

– Portia de Rossi


While it happens to be Ellen’s name out front, one person alone can’t do this without the help, support, funding and love of a large community. The Ellen Fund is and always will be a team effort. It’s a forum for people like you to join Ellen on this journey, an invitation to get engaged and walk with us to help our planet. It is the only way that we can save these animals… with your help.
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A Look Back at a Groundbreaking Year


More About the Campus


The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

The new Campus will be the first permanent headquarters the Fossey Fund has known.

It also supports the Rwandan government’s conservation efforts, and will be a huge investment in the local community — with about 1,500 jobs created (almost half for women), and $2 million spent on local labor plus another $2.5 million on local materials!

The Campus is being designed and built by MASS Design Group. They’re using sustainable architecture, local resourcing, and environmentally sound practices.

The Campus will feature:

  • 11 acres adjacent to Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda, with more than 50,000 square feet of building space,

  • The best in sustainable architecture, local resourcing, and environmentally-responsible practices,

  • State-of-the-art laboratories, a scientific conservation library, and meeting space for large groups,

  • An interactive exhibit that focuses on Dian Fossey’s story and the conservation of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and

  • Indoor and outdoor classrooms with a range of experiences for everyone from young children to scientists to tourists.

Groundbreaking was February 12, 2019, with completion targeted approximately 2 years after. We invite you to follow and support our journey along the way via Ellen’s Journals, social media, and The Ellen Show updates.

The Ellen Fund and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund are two separate non-profits, and we’re proud to have partnered with them on this specific project. And the gorillas need all the partners they can get! Ready to get involved? >

It’s officially called The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and it’s The Ellen Fund’s first project.

The Ellen Fund was initially started with one very clear purpose: to continue Dian Fossey’s journey and help save mountain gorillas in the wild. We are 100% focused on making this first project a success.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was created to continue Dian’s legacy after her untimely death. For the past 40 years they have been doing amazing work to assure her mission of saving the gorillas. Not only do they address all threats to the gorillas — from human illnesses to habitat loss — but they also work closely with the surrounding communities to help assure locals and the gorillas can live together in harmony, where each helps the other.

But Dian’s Fund was missing a critical component: a permanent home. The Ellen Fund is supporting The Fossey Fund as it works with the local population, gorillas experts, local and world-class architects, technology sponsors and many others to create a campus that will support (a) the longterm health and care of the Dian Fossey Fund, (b) gorilla science, (c) responsible tourism, and (d) the needs of the local population. It’s officially called The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and we hope you can visit some day.

Donations to The Ellen Fund will help build The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. This is The Ellen Fund’s first project and main priority. The goal of the campus is to inspire everyone who visits to cherish gorillas and their conservation. We met with an architect when we were in Rwanda and it’s going to be fantastic. We can’t wait for you to see it.

The Campus aims to inspire tourists, scientists, government partners, students and community members toward a lifetime of gorilla conservation.


Portia at the Groundbreaking

For my 60th birthday, my amazing wife Portia surprised me with the most incredible birthday gift I’ve ever received: A campus with my name on it at The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda (I wanted the new iPad, but this was way better). The Campus will help continue Dian’s work to protect and study endangered mountain gorillas.