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Fossey Fund Researcher Makes the Trek to Corning from Rwanda


October 2012
Corning® Gorilla® Glass is named for gorilla’s attributes of toughness and beauty. While these majestic animals are often called kings of the jungle, they are also considered an endangered species.

To give back to these animals, Corning is proud to support the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

“Part of giving back to this highly endangered species is understanding and raising awareness for the gorillas, as well as the Fossey Fund,  said Dave Velasquez, director, marketing and commercial operations for Gorilla Glass, “Corning is excited to continue learning about gorillas, especially through experts like Veronica Vecellio.”

 Veronica observing habituated gorillas

Veronica observing
habituated Gorillas

Earlier this month, the Fossey Fund’s Gorilla Program Coordinator, Veronica Vecellio, made the trek from Rwanda to Corning to speak with a group of employees. This unique opportunity gave employees an inside look into how Corning’s support is making a difference for the Fossey Fund.

Vecellio presented on who Dian Fossey was, what the Fossey Fund is, and how the non-profit organization helps protect and monitor gorillas. Also, Vecellio shared some personal stories from her conservation work in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and told employees that, “Every day is special.”

Based at the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, Vecellio helps manage the field trackers that observe, protect, and study approximately 120 gorillas every day. She also helps drive the organization’s research and database collections on the gorillas’ locations, life cycles, and group dynamics.

Titus

Titus

While the work of Vecellio’s team to preserve and support gorillas is extremely rewarding, it is not without challenges or danger. 

During her visit at Corning, Vecellio related a story of when she encountered an unhabituated silverback (dominant male gorilla leading a group). The gorilla charged at her and she sustained severe bite wounds on her leg. Both the injuries and the trauma of the situation took months for Vecellio to fully recover from. 

“When I came to interview with Fossey Fund in 2005 for a research assistant position, I let them know what had happened to me,” explained Vecellio. “The Fossey Fund was very patient with slowly introducing me back to habituated gorillas, and that is when I met a very gentle giant, and my favorite gorilla, Titus.”

Corning employees were humbled by Vecellio’s personal story of how the charming Titus, calmly approached and sat next to her in the mountainous rainforest of Rwanda.

Infant Grauer's Gorilla

Infant gorilla

Other employees enjoyed Vecellio’s heartwarming videos of orphaned, infant gorillas at Fossey’s GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education) Center, as well as learning more about the organization’s database collections and research projects.

“The Fossey Fund’s dedication to research naturally aligns with Corning’s Values, but it is their outstanding work that is truly making an impact on gorilla conservation and protection,” said Velasquez. “We are proud to  support this organization and raise awareness for their cause.”

Created with the Fossey Fund:

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