Today is the day I celebrate one of the greatest people in the World's history. Dian Fossey was killed in her home on this day in 1985. She would have been about 76 years old now. I usually prefer to celebrate the person's life on the day they die as opposed to the day they were born, particularly someone like Dian Fossey. She was a remarkable woman! A real pioneer. Like me, she prefered animals to people. Jane Goodall is a great person too, but she is not as great as Dian Fossey was. Until Fossey took those first steps to make close contact with the gorillas, Goodall would never have even thought of interacting with the chimps, which she didn't do until long after she began studying them. Fossey, like me, enjoys more contact with animals. Also like me, animals always took to Fossey! She has made close contact even with cape water buffalo, something I wouldn't have the guts to do voluntarily. But she was never charged at by the buffalo. They just looked at her with great indifference. In short terms, Dian Fossey was COOL!! She knew how to "talk" to animals. Well, she was almost supernatural in her ability to make even wild animals feel at ease around her. This is why people like Dian Fossey, who are no longer with us, I prefer to celebrate their lives on the date they passed. Because then I feel we celebrate all their accomplishments, which is really something to celebrate. People like Tim Farriss, I still celebrate his birthday because he is still here and I love him a lot as a bandmember of INXS!! He has had some great accomplishments too, and I reflect back on those. If it wasn't for him, there never would have been INXS. That would have been a very intolerable existance for me!! INXS has always been counted as one of the all-time best live rock n roll bands, I can't even think of life anymore without my memories of the concerts I've been to, and the times I have met and even been in the same room with Tim Farriss and the rest of the guys from the band.
Anyway, in her lifetime, Fossey even published a best-selling book, "Gorillas in the Mist", I have read the book and enjoyed it. Fossey's own comments on the book though were that there was too much "me-itis" in the book. That's what she called it when one thought too much of one's self. But the World thought it was a great book. I loved it. So there is actually a lot to celebrate in Fossey's life, she's always been my hero, for a long time she was, and still is. I still look up to her in a lot of ways for a lot of things. I've even looked up to her back when I was breeding chihuahuas, I did what I could to defend the breed as aggressively sometimes as Dian Fossey defended the gorillas. Though back in those days, I still liked people, so I was a little more diplomatic in my approach. Today is the day I give my donation to the Gorilla Fund. I've given a lot to charity this year, I gave a lot of donations to the thrift store out here, it's a non-profit thrift store whose money all goes to help those in need in this town. I gave $20 to the Salvatian Army red bucket this year, and now this. I'm buying myself a great deal of good karma (luck, prayers, you name it) I can use it next year. Have a lot of plans for next year.
Here is another choice tidbit, 2009 is officially the Year of the Gorilla, well, scientists are making it that way according to this article: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/12/01/year-of-gorilla.html. The mountain gorillas have become something of an icon for endangered animals. Today there are about 700 individuals in the wild. That's not a bad number considering at one point when Fossey was studying them, there were as few as less than 400 wild individuals. That's quite a jump! That makes mountain gorillas one of the most endangered animals in the World. The only thing rarer that I can put my finger on (according to that same article) is the Asian cheetah. But I don't give a shit about cheetahs, ugly bastards!!!! So I concentrate on saving the mountain gorillas. Dian Fossey began the gorilla fund after the slaying of her most favorite gorilla she called Digit, and in fact, the fund used to be called "the Digit Fund". Now, it is called the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. In all honesty, I don't think Dian Fossey would approve of that!! She would have more likely argued that the fund was founded for Digit, not her. But not much we can do about it. But knowing Dian Fossey as well as I do, if she complained to her publisher about putting too much of herself in her own book, she sure as Hell would have griped about naming this gorilla fund after herself and taking Digit's name off it. No way she'd have stood for that! But she isn't here to argue so I guess whoever it was that changed the name of the fund thought what they were doing was right. Well, Fossey can sit in Heaven and be happy at least the gorilla population is increasing. Slowly! Gorillas were never meant to be very common, they are slow reproducers. Even more so than we are. Because they don't have sex just for the fun of it. They don't care about having huge families like a lot of people do. They think about what the long-term consequences are on thier environment due to their population and people usually do not. Believe it or not, animals are programmed by nature to only reproduce when necessary. Humans are not. Humans just think about "Oh I have 3 kids, but I don't care about the long-term affects! I just want to have MORE kids!!" Animals are not like that. They are programmed that when food is scarce, or their environment may be going through some kind of particular shortage, or when there is too many of their species and not enough natural population control, they stop reproducing. Unfortunately human interferrence doesn't count because people just chop down trees and build houses and farms and kill off natural predators without thinking what it's going to do to the animals. Or they kill animals for fun (also known as poaching). So animals that are slow to reproduce, like mountain gorillas, wind up suffering drastic declines in their population. And it's not like mountain gorillas can be kept in zoos either. The gorillas we see in zoos are always of the lowland variety. Animals that have adapted to the mountain climates very often are difficult to keep in captivity because they require special adaptations to live in their harsh environment. These adaptations are not compatable with the small habitats they provide in zoos. I'm surprised snow leopards can be kept in zoos. But snow leopards are relatively young as a species. They evolved off of regular Indian leopards no more than about 100,000 years ago, maybe less. But as far as gorillas go, I'm afraid they still have a long way to go. But Dian Fossey would be enjoying this progress. The gorillas would be saying to her "We're doing the best we can with what little resources we have left!"