Dian Fossey (/da??æn ?f?si/; January 16, 1932 – c. December 26, 1985) was an American zoologist who undertook an extensive study of gorillagroups over a period of 18 years. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by famousanthropologist Louis Leakey. Her 1983 book, Gorillas in the Mist, combines her scientific study of the mountain gorilla at Karisoke Research Centerwith her own personal story. Fossey was murdered in 1985; the case remains open.[1]


Called one of the foremost primatologists in the world while she was alive, Fossey, along with Jane Goodall and Birut? Galdikas, were the so-calledTrimates, a group of three prominent researchers on primates (Fossey on gorillas; Goodall on chimpanzees; and Galdikas on orangutans) sent by Leakey to study great apes in their natural environments.

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  • Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, California to George E. Fossey III, an insurance agent, and Kathryn "Kitty" (Kidd) Fossey, a fashion model.[4]
    Her father was a US Navy sailor. Her parents divorced when Dian was aged 6.[5] 
    • Her mother remarried the following year, to businessman Richard Price.
  • Her father tried to keep in contact, but her mother discouraged it, and all contact was subsequently lost.[4] 
  1. Dian’s stepfather, Richard Price, never treated Dian as his own child. He would not allow Dian to sit at the dining room table with him or Dian’s mother during dinner meals.[6] 
  2. A man adhering to strict discipline, Richard Price offered Dian little to no emotional support.[7] Struggling with personal insecurity, Dian turned to animals as a way to gain acceptance.[8] 
  3. Her love for animals began with her first pet goldfish and continued throughout her entire life.[6] At age six, she began horse riding, earning a letter from her school; by her graduation in 1954, Fossey had established herself as an equestrienne.

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