Today’s Google logo is an artful tribute to zoologist and avid Gorilla enthusiast Dian Fossey in honor of her 82nd birthday.
The image depicts Fossey taking notes with a gorilla sitting behind her. The logo includes illustrations of the Silverback gorillas Fossey studied during her time in Rwanda, along with a picture of the Rwanda mountains where Fossey set camp for most of her 18-years with the gorillas.
Born on January 16, 1932 in San Francisco, Fossey originally studied to be an occupational therapist and spent her early career working at the Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. At age 31, she took a loan to spend seven weeks in Africa, where she met anthropologist Louis Leakey who would help set Fossey on her course of study among the gorillas, and initiate the research funding she would eventually earn to stay in Africa.
Fossey is well known for her connection to the gorillas she studied and her fierce protection of them. She fought the poaching industry and also rallied against tourism efforts because of its negative impact on the gorilla population. She established the Digit Fund, named for her beloved gorilla Digit who was killed by poachers, to help raise money and support anti-poaching policies.
Fossey’s book Gorillas in the Mist is a personal narrative of her time studying the gorillas and her experiences living among them. The book was made into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver and received much acclaim, including five Academy Award nominations.
In December 26, 1985, Fossey was found murdered in her cabin. Rwanda authorities tried and convicted a member of Fossey’s staff, although he never served time after returning to the United States before the trial. His guilt and the details of Fossey’s death continue to be a controversial matter.