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African Update Lara's Excellent Adventure (in Rwanda)
Oct 29, 2012
Young Rwandan Mountain Gorilla and Gorilla Foundation Member, Lara Olson

Lara Olsha, an APE monthly donor and member of the Gorilla Foundation’s Legacy Society (which means that she has included the Foundation in her estate plan, to support Koko’s important work in the future). She was seeking a little advice as she was planning a trip to Africa that included a mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda, and she wanted to make the most of it!

Growing up in the US, but originally from Australia, Lara recalls trips to the Melbourne Zoo, where she was fascinated by the gorillas She’d also known about Koko from an early age (girl and gorilla were born just a year apart). Even as a child she was impressed by Penny Patterson’s work teaching Koko to communicate in a way we could understand.

Lara now lives in Seattle where she has become a successful small business owner. When she was invited to visit family in Tanzania, Lara made plans to explore the wildlife of that country. She was thrilled when she learned she would also have a few extra days to visit the mountain gorillas in the neighboring country of Rwanda.

It was the experience of a lifetime, as her charming pictures of baby mountain gorillas attest. In Volcanoes National Park she witnessed a family group comprised of a silverback and several females, one with twins (a real rarity). She was also fortunate enough to experience a gorilla “naming ceremony,” at which communities living in proximity with the gorillas celebrate new births, inspiring local people to protect this critically endangered species.

Lara confirms “the trip made me more passionate to do whatever I can to help their conservation.” Even as she was traveling, Lara helped by distributing copies of the mini-book version of Koko’s Kitten, including some to a library in Kigali, Rwanda. And when she returned home, she held a raffle (including some Koko-related items) through her business to benefit the Foundation.

Koko and the Gorilla Foundation send warmest thanks to Lara for sharing her glorious photos with us and for her enduring commitment to saving a species and the environment.

Additional Photos taken by Lara in Rwanda
Youngster Mother
Family2 Family
Baby Silverback
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The Gorilla Foundation's Conservation (through Communication) Team Leaders

Tony Rose
Anthony Rose, Ph.D. -- The Gorilla Foundation's Director of Conservation oversees our programs in Africa and represents the Foundation in the global conservation community.

Dr. Rose founded the Biosynergy Institute's Bushmeat Project in 1996 to expose the severity of Africa's bushmeat crisis and foster collaboration to overcome it through community based programs.

He is an applied social psychologist and organization developer, a prolific author and lecturer, and has advised government agencies and private foundations on issues of forest management, military diplomacy, religious community development, educational innovation, and health care quality assurance. Email rose@koko.org

Penelope Fraser
Penelope Fraser, MSc., MPhil.-- The Gorilla Foundation's Director of African Field Education has developed and managed our innovations in conservation education in public, private and parochial schools and communities across Cameroon for nearly a decade.

Ms. Fraser is a director of United Africa Association (UNAFAS) working to support communities and institutions seeking to achieve healthy, democratic and ecologically sustainable life-ways and livelihoods.

Email fraser@koko.org
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