Once a project of the Dian Fossey International Gorilla Fund, GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center) has developed into a standalone non-profit organization. GRACE’s mission is to provide the best facilities and care for rescued Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while working alongside local communities to ensure gorilla survival in the wild. GRACE’s international partners and in-country collaborators provide expert training and support to increase capacity in all of its programs, including veterinary care, animal husbandry, conservation education, and behavioral and conservation science.
|GRACE focuses on saving orphaned gorillas, rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild. Most rescued gorillas are under the age of 3. This requires specialized care, because most gorillas aren’t weaned until they are about 4. Once gorillas are ready, they are put into social groups so that young gorillas can learn life and social skills and the adults can bond with the youth.|
|GRACE has completed the construction of a 24-acre forest enclosure that allows the gorilla’s daily access to a large tract of their natural habitat. Accessing this forest will help the gorillas learn how to forage on their own and interact with their environment within the confines of a safe zone. GRACE also conducts extensive behavioral and health monitoring to help identify which gorillas are suitable candidates for reintroduction and to devise specific management practices for those who still require more rehabilitation.|
|Gorilla reintroduction cannot occur until the forest is safe from poachers and human encroachment. Thus, conservation education is a central part of GRACE’s mission. They work with the Kasugho community and others around Tayna Nature Reserve and adjacent areas to raise awareness about the plight of Grauer’s gorillas and the importance of conserving the natural treasures of the Congo. Their education programs train teachers, engage schoolchildren, work with women’s groups, and raise awareness through community-wide campaigns.|
Why is this organization important to the Dallas Zoo?
Dallas Zoo has a long history of caring for gorillas at the Zoo; it is also a high priority to conserve threatened gorilla species and their ecosystems in Africa. The Dallas Zoo has been an important part of GRACE’s development over the years and we have donated both financial and in-kind support, such as sending personnel to assist in projects. Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo, has served on the board of GRACE and guided the transition from a division of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to an independent and thriving entity.