Dian Fossey

Anthropologist, Academic

1932 – 1985


Who was Dian Fossey?

Dian Fossey was an American zoologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by famous anthropologist Louis Leakey. Her 1983 book, Gorillas in the Mist, combines her scientific study of the mountain gorilla at Karisoke Research Center with her own personal story. Fossey was murdered in 1985; the case remains open.

Called one of the foremost primatologists in the world while she was alive, Fossey, along with Jane Goodall and Birutė Galdikas, were the so-called Trimates, a group of three prominent researchers on primates sent by Leakey to study great apes in their natural environments.

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Jan 16, 1932
San Francisco
  • United States of America
  • Bachelor's degree, San José State University
    Occupational therapy
    ( - 1954)
  • Lowell High School
    ( - 1949)
  • Darwin College, Cambridge
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of California, Davis
Lived in
  • Louisville
  • San Francisco
Dec 26, 1985
Volcanoes National Park

on July 23, 2013


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