Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center
Reports of illegally held Grauer’s gorilla infants began increasing around 2008, but there was no long-term solution for dealing with these animals, once they were confiscated by wildlife officers. The Congolese Wildlife Authority (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, ICCN) urged the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, a gorilla research and conservation non-profit working in Congo and Rwanda, to find a solution to this problem.
Thus was born the idea of the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center. The aim was to create an in situ facility where orphaned Grauer’s gorillas could receive the care they need and also learn the skills for reintroduction back into the wild. Having a facility dedicated to orphaned gorillas should, in theory, bolster the enforcement of animal trafficking laws because authorities now have a place to send confiscated gorillas. GRACE also strives to provide educational opportunities for local communities to promote gorilla conservation around Tayna Nature Reserve.
GRACE is a Collaborative Effort
In 2009, GRACE was initiated by the Fossey Fund, ICCN, and the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB, a Congolese conservation-focused university) with financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service andDisney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and technical assistance from Disney’s Animal Programs and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). GRACE is now the collaborative effort of these and several other organizations, includingHouston Zoo, Dallas Zoo, Detroit Zoo, Nashville Zoo, and Utah’s Hogle Zoo.