Yep, Portia. You nailed it!
For her 60th birthday, Ellen received a new foundation – the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund – and the organisation’s first project is to house a gorilla conservation centre in Rwanda.
It’s all thanks to wife Portia De Rossi who came up with the idea:
“It’s your 60th birthday and this gift had to be really special and it had to represent who you are and what you really care about,” Portia explains during an appearance on The Ellen Show. “Not just now, but what you’ve always cared about. What you were influenced by and what has made you the amazing person that you are today.”
It really is the PERFECT present for the talk-show host, who’s been passionate about protecting animals for a long time. You see, one of Ellen’s idols is Dian Fossey, an American conservationist who fought against poaching and tourism in the wild and was best known for her study of mountain gorillas. (Remember that movie Gorillas in the Mist?)
“Ellen you will carry on Dian’s legacy by giving them a permanent home in Rwanda. Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals, the mountain gorillas. Happy Birthday!”
It’s not hard to see why Ellen burst into tears.
There are currently just 880 mountain gorillas alive on earth and The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund will ensure that number stays up. A 50,000 square foot, eco-friendly campus will be set up to house Dian’s organisation so they can continue to promote conservation. It will provide training grounds for scientists and create exhibits for tourists showcasing Dian’s story. There are even plans to develop outdoor living labs so school students can observe the animals and study important topics like reforestation.
Making such a huge difference to the lives of endangered animals and literally, taking care of the planet – now that’s something to dance about, right Ellen?