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- American comedian
- Australian-American businesswoman, philanthropist, and former model and actress
Ellen DeGeneres is on the trip of a lifetime.
For her 60th birthday, the talk show host’s wife, Portia de Rossi, surprised her with her own gorilla conservation center in Rwanda, which will be called the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, because DeGeneres is both an animal lover and a superfan of the late Fossey. So the couple has traveled to Africa together — you may have noticed that DeGeneres has guest hosts on her show — to see the site of the future campus and hang with gorillas and giraffes along the way.
DeGeneres said she’s been waiting her whole life to make the trek. She’s said that the person she’d most like to interview would be the Gorillas in the Mist author, who died in 1985. She’s also said that as a kid, she read every word of a 1970 National Geographic cover story on Fossey that detailed her research camp in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda.
I’ve waited my whole life to make this trip. pic.twitter.com/J2GNciu9Oy
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 31, 2018
She was thrilled to touch down in the country.
Once there, she got to sit at her hero’s desk, a moving moment for sure.
This is Dian Fossey’s desk in Rwanda. Sitting here and helping carry on her mission moved me more than I can express. I’m so grateful to each one of you who’s helping me do it, and the amazing people at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, @SavingGorillas.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 31, 2018 at 2:31pm PDT
She was more excited to spend time with the gorillas, watching them play and make gorilla noises.
#Repost @edwildlifefund ・・・ Spending time with these gorillas changed my life. Thank you to everyone who is helping Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund @savinggorillas and @edwildlifefund save them. -ED *click the link in bio to see how you can get involved.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 30, 2018 at 3:01pm PDT
“I can’t begin to describe what this experience was like, or how much it means to me,” DeGeneres wrote. “I’m so grateful.” (Make sure you play this too because there are more great gorilla noises.)
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 30, 2018 at 2:15pm PDT
Her smile kinda says it all.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 30, 2018 at 1:14pm PDT
De Rossi was safari ready with her threads.
One of our favorite photos that De Rossi shared (so far), though, was of DeGeneres taking a “coffee break” during their safari. So casual!
A post shared by Portia de Rossi (@portiaderossi) on Jun 1, 2018 at 12:29am PDT
The women hiked with the Fossey Fund CEO, Tara Stoinski, in their gorilla T-shirts.
Fossey Fund CEO Dr. Tara Stoinski, Ellen DeGeneres, and Portia de Rossi just finished an amazing hike to see the Agasha gorilla group today. The Fossey Fund was extremely honored to host Ellen and Portia at Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, where they met with staff and discussed plans for the new Ellen DeGeneres Campus of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. @EDWildlifeFund @TheEllenShow @portiaderossi #EllenSavesGorillas
A post shared by The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (@savinggorillas) on May 29, 2018 at 12:36pm PDT
DeGeneres and De Rossi also met with the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, because this facility is a big deal. It will cost an estimated $10 million to complete; so far, the duo has raised about $8 million, including a mega donation of $4 million that Ashton Kutcher announced would be coming from tech company Ripple.
#Repost @paulkagame ・・・ Today at Village Urugwiro, President Kagame meets with Ellen DeGeneres, host of @TheEllenShow and Portia De Rossi who are on holiday in Rwanda and visited the site of the upcoming Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 30, 2018 at 3:45pm PDT
They talked about gorilla conservation:
Video: President Kagame meets with Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi. pic.twitter.com/x3xepPnvv2
— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) May 29, 2018
The couple’s African adventures began in Kenya, where they also got up close and personal with animals — that time, giraffes.
A post shared by Africa (@visit.africa) on May 28, 2018 at 6:59am PDT
There was some flirting going on.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 26, 2018 at 1:36pm PDT
They stayed at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 26, 2018 at 10:37am PDT
We’re not sure we’d be able to order either, with all that was going on.
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 26, 2018 at 9:32am PDT
We’re not saying this tops DeGeneres’s infamous Oscars selfie, but it’s close. (What can we say, we love giraffes.)
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 26, 2018 at 11:46am PDT
A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on May 27, 2018 at 7:54am PDT
According to the Gorilla Fund website, DeGeneres’s campus — which will feature 50,000 square feet of building space and a living lab on the grounds — will allow the organization to “expand our science, research, and conservation activities; enhance our educational and community programs; and engage people from Rwanda and the world to join the effort on behalf of wild gorillas.” Depending on fundraising, the goal is to open the facility by 2020.
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