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 all gorillas are smart, sensitive, and can be very gentle like Koko and Michael.

The Gorilla Foundation’s Conservation Director Emeritus, Dr. Tony Rose of Biosynergy Institute, initiated the use of Koko and Michael’s stories to engender interspecies empathy that inspires hunters to stop killing gorillas and consumers to stop buying illegal great ape bushmeat. The Foundation, in partnership with Penelope Fraser of UNAFAS, has encouraged empathy for apes in hundreds of schools and church parishes. We will expand those efforts and also seek conservation partners who wish to implement our compassion-building programs in the forest villages and communities they depend on to protect great apes.

Penelope Fraser with Gladys, daughter of the late Joseph Melloh, a gorilla hunter who became a conservationist.

The Gorilla Foundation has also supported orphaned gorillas in African sanctuaries, such as Bobo (pictured in 2003), who is now a strong adult at the Ape Action Africa’s Mefou Sanctuary in Cameroon, and we believe it is important to raise more funds to provide future support for such sanctuaries.

Here in North America, the Foundation supports the Gorilla Species Survival Program (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which manages captive gorillas in the USA. In particular, The Gorilla Foundation supports the AZA commitment to deter all zoos from buying wild caught apes. The video of silverback Michael’s terrifying account of his mother’s murder in the forest reveals the horrid life-long effects of poaching on gorilla orphans.

The Gorilla Foundation has a strong personal interest in helping free-living gorillas as well as great apes everywhere. Having demonstrated the value of our empathy-building conservation education programs in Cameroon communities, we are now preparing to share our innovations with complementary conservation organizations in other African gorilla habitat countries.


Teacher in Cameroon school uses Koko’s Kitten lesson plan developed by Penelope Fraser to convey conservation values.