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.