A core mission of The Gorilla Foundation is to inspire the conservation of endangered great apes, including gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans. Everywhere free-living great apes are found, their native forest homes are being rapidly cut down. In Africa and parts of Indonesia they are hunted illegally by people for use and sale as gourmet food in the massive bushmeat trade; baby apes that survive the hunt are sold in the illegal pet trade. Great apes can be infected with human viruses, causing many of them to die each year of epidemic diseases. As a result of this triple threat – logging, hunting, and disease -- free-living great apes face extinction. 


Apply the knowlege and empathy gained via interspecies communication to save great apes — using empathy-evoking books and multimedia education, strategic partnerships, and gorillas Koko and Michael, who make conservation personal.

Status of Gorillas Worldwide

Free-living gorillas live only in Africa. There are two main kinds of gorillas: western (lowland and cross-river) and eastern (mountain and lowland). They have all become critically endangered. More

How Can We Help Them?

One of the most effective ways to help free-living gorillas is by learning more about them and helping others understand that they are smart, sensitive and can be very gentle — "all gorillas can be like Koko and Michael." More

Progress and Plans

Our empathy education materials are used in over 350 schools in Cameroon, and hundreds of trained educators have implemented curricula for over 150,000 students. Results show that Koko makes people care about great apes. More

Conservation Partners

The Gorilla Foundation is developing partnerships with conservation organizations that conduct community-based wildlife conservation projects in Africa. Our unique empathy evoking approach helps conservationists instill humane values. More

Conservation Blog

Read articles by our conservation director emeritus, Tony Rose, our partner in Cameroon, Penelope Fraser, and others,  about the impact of Koko and Michael in Africa, and efforts to conserve great apes around the world.  More

Michael's Story

Gorilla Michael was born in Africa, and eventually came to live with Koko in the U.S. at age 3, where he learned to sign with her. When asked about his gorilla mother, Michael signed his tragic memory of becoming an orphan in the forest. More


Contact Us



The Gorilla Foundation /
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

User login

Why become a member?

Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.
facebook twitter instagram youtube 

Website design by 1185 Design and powered by TrevNet Media