Dian Fossey

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Dian Fossey was an outstanding American zoologist who spent 18 years living among gorillas. She was the first person to have voluntary contact with a gorilla, when one of them touched her hand. She gained their complete trust and was able to sit amongst them and play with them and their young. Fossey was able to learn a great deal about mountain gorillas during her lifetime. We now know much more about gorilla's behavior and their relationship to humans as a result of her work.

Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco California in 1932. She was the only child of George and Kitty Fossey. She had a difficult childhood. Her father drank heavily which led her parents to divorce when she was only three years old. After the divorce, Dian saw little of her father. When Dian was five her mother remarried a man named Richard Price. Her new stepfather did not treat her nicely.

She was forced to eat dinner in the kitchen with the housekeeper until she was ten. When she decided to attend college she received little support from her stepfather.

Dian Fossey attended San Jose State as a pre-veterinary student and soon changed her major to Occupational Therapy. After Dian Fossey was a trained occupational therapist she found a job at the Kosiar Children's Hospital in Kentucky. Dian was often praised for her ability to communicate with the disabled children in ways others could not. Although she loved her job at the hospital, she longed to see more of the world. This desire led her to borrow against her next three-year's earnings to finance a trip to Africa. During her trip she was particularly interested in the excavations at Oldubia and the mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes of Central Africa.

In 1963, during her...