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Rwanda, Africa

Mountain gorilla silverback Pato has been followed since birth by trackers and scientists working for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. He is the son of legendary late silverback Titus and lives in one of the mountain gorilla groups that the Fossey Fund monitors every day in Rwanda’s Volcanoes Mountains. He has an important role in leading his group, helping to keep them safe every day.

Why do they need you?

There are only about 900 mountain gorillas left in the world, and it is only through daily protection that their extinction has been prevented. All types of gorillas in the wild are critically endangered and face such threats as poaching, hunting, loss of habitat, and forest degradation. Nearby communities are often impoverished, putting additional pressure on the environment, such as using the forest for access to water, firewood or crop land.

How is Zoo Atlanta helping?

Zoo Atlanta plays a critical role in helping the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund save gorillas by providing pro-bono space and other support for the organization for more than 20 years.

Our Team

Dr. Tara Stoinski

President & CEO/Chief Scientist of the Fossey Fund

Dr. Tara Stoinski spent many years leading gorilla research at Zoo Atlanta and continues to partner with the Zoo on science and conservation partnerships. Dr. Stoinski is a leading primatologist and expert in gorilla behavior studies, helping to carry on and expand the legacy of pioneering scientist Dr. Dian Fossey. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Master’s degree in biology from Oxford University, England.

Image by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

How can you help save the gorillas?

You can help save gorillas by supporting the work of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and other organizations that protect and study gorillas in the wild, and help others to learn about the threats they face and the best solutions for helping them and surrounding communities.

Did you know that some metals used in cell phones and other electronics often come from mining in gorilla habitat? This results in destruction of critical habitat as well as additional hunting and other threats to gorillas.  You can help by recycling your cell phones through Zoo Atlanta’s cell phone recycling program, Gorillas on the Line.

Dr. Tara Stoinski in the field researching mountain gorillas. Image by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
Mountain gorilla in the wild in Rwanda. Image by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International


Beyond the Zoo

Learn more about Zoo Atlanta’s commitment to saving species.

The global decline of species and their habitats makes it clear that we need a multifaceted approach to conservation. Zoos are a critical component of this approach, with a responsibility to be a force that drives action.

View the Report

Studying gorillas in the Zoo and the wild

Unknown to most of our visitors, Zoo Atlanta has an active primate behavior and cognition research program, with scientists studying...

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Representative Research

Studying wild mountain gorilla groups in Rwanda, our researchers, in collaboration with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, discovered some key features of how, when, and with whom mother gorillas associate socially, and how that influences the probability of the survival of her offspring.

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