Rwanda: Ellen Degeneres “Thinks of Moving to Rwanda”

Celebrated American television personality, Ellen DeGeneres, together with her partner Portia de Rossi are expected in Rwanda to launch the couple’s Gorilla campus on June 7.

The grand opening comes four months after the multi-acre Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF) was opened to the public.

The New Times has learnt that the ceremony will be attended by among others, senior government officials, conservationists, academia as well as friends of Rwanda.

The $10 million campus was first announced four years ago as a 60th birthday gift to the American comedian by longtime partner de Rossi.

It would later make Ellen embark on a first trip to Rwanda to physically witness the legacy of the Dian Fossey in service of mountain Gorillas.

Ellen, who is also passionate about animal conservation, raised awareness and mobilized resources to see the campus complete by the end 2021.

De Rossi will be coming to Rwanda for the second time since attending the 2019 groundbreaking ceremony.

“I can’t wait to see Ellen’s reaction. When we’re actually there in the flesh walking around the buildings I think she’s going to be super emotional,” she told Hollywood report.

For Ellen, neither the presence nor the gift is finite, “I think about moving there,” says DeGeneres of Rwanda. “We think about getting a house there and spending a lot of time in Rwanda because the people are so beautiful and happy and welcoming.”

“When Portia gave me this gift, there were 800 gorillas,” she added, “and today there are around 1,100. So it’s really made a difference, bringing awareness.”

The campus so far has seen about 5,000 visitors, two-fifths who have been Rwandan students, with Rossi hoping that the next generation of Rwandans can leverage on this opportunity.

Inside the campus

The campus, designed by architecture firm MASS Design Group, offers immersive and educational experiences, such as watching mountain gorillas on film in the 360-degree Irmelin DiCaprio Theater, according to Rossi.

Visitors also can engage with augmented and virtual reality, artifacts and a reproduction of how Fossey lived in her little hut, complete with original notations and desk.

The campus is also home to Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund which has been operating in Rwanda for more than 50 years through its Karisoke Research Center, based in Musanze District, Northern Province.

An American primatologist and conservationist, Diane Fossey pioneered Gorillas’ conservation in Rwanda, before being murdered in 1985.

The Fossey Fund is the world’s longest-running and largest organization dedicated entirely to the conservation of gorillas.

It works in areas of conservation of mountain gorillas and their habitat, scientific research on the gorillas and greater biodiversity of the region, educating the next generation of African scientists through working with Rwandan universities, and engaging local communities to increase their support for conservation.

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