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OKC Zoo Hosts Dian Fossey Gorilla Conservation Group - 2012

Posted by Tara Henson on 10/19/2012

MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                                    October 19, 2012


CONTACTS:  Tara Henson: (405) 425-0219 office, (405) 919-9038 cell, [email protected]

                     Candice Rennels: (405) 425-0298 office, (405) 412-6172 cell, [email protected]



Helping people. Saving gorillas. The Oklahoma City Zoo and Oklahoma Zoological Society will host representatives from The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International on Tuesday, October 23. Clare Richardson, president and CEO, and Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator, will tour Zoo grounds and share the organization’s mission with Zoo staff members during the day. A free evening presentation to the public from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Zoo’s Education Auditorium will highlight the event.

The Zoo has long partnered with The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in gorilla conservation awareness, and shares a commitment to the future protection and scientific study of gorillas and their habitat. The Zoo supports the organization as Gorilla Council Members and Dwight Scott, Zoo executive director and CEO, is a member of the Dian Fossey Board of Trustees.

Founded by Fossey in 1978, the organization is dedicated to the conservation and protection of the fewer than 500 remaining gorillas and their severely threatened habitats in Africa. Fossey's 1983 book, “Gorillas in the Mist”, brought the plight of the mountain gorilla to the world’s attention. In 1988, actress Sigourney Weaver starred as Fossey in the movie of the same name. Weaver has sense become the honorary chair of the organization.

“It is very important as a zoological facility to participate in conservation. We have an obligation to make sure we deliver great care to our animals at the Zoo, but we also have an obligation to support conservation in the wild,” said Scott.

The Zoo’s Great EscApe includes Western lowland gorillas. Zoos worldwide do not house the endangered mountain gorilla species.


6 p.m.-7 p.m. – Free public lecture in the Rosser Conservation Education Auditorium (located at the east end of the Zoo’s parking lot). Seating is limited to the first 300 attendees. A Rwandan dance troupe from Oklahoma Christian University will precede the presentation.


The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International pursues measures to protect mountain gorillas from poaching, loss of habitat and disease, and promotes rehabilitation. It conducts research and provides education on mountain gorillas and their threatened ecosystems. Because human poverty is considered the greatest threat to gorillas, the organization provides education, health training and development initiatives to local communities to improve their quality of life and foster stewardship of their own natural environment.

The gorilla conservation work begun by Fossey, before her tragic death in 1985, has exceeded expectations. The latest census of mountain gorillas in the Virungas found that they increased from about 260 individuals in Fossey’s day to 480 by 2010, making mountain gorillas the only great ape population to have increased in number during recent decades.


The Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden shall contribute to an understanding and preservation of the Earth's natural resources through positive recreational and educational experiences. The Zoo will also conduct and participate in scientifically based conservation programs that benefit animal and plant communities, both at the Zoo and in nature.


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