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Weaving a gorilla tale

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gorilla conservationist Sigourney Weaver
gorilla conservationist Sigourney Weaver

Actor Sigourney Weaver on her special bond with the magnificent gorillas of Rwanda

Sigourney Weaver played ardent gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey in “Gorillas in the Mist.” For World Environment Day, Weaver recounts Fossey’s extraordinary tale with “Gorillas Revisited”. The triple-Oscar nominee discusses the show. Excerpts.

How did you come be to involved with Gorillas Revisited?

I have had the honour of working with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International since I worked in “Gorillas in the Mist”. And I wanted to go back to Rwanda, where I had a very wonderful and powerful experience both with the gorillas and with the Rwandan people. And I love the country very much, and I had not been able to go back since the genocide. It came up a couple of times and then for various reasons, either over there or with me it didn’t happen, so I was very excited about going back. after 20 years. The gorillas have been through a lot of changes, but their numbers have been up. Tell us something about your role in the programme?

I had been in talks with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, of which I’m the honorary chairman, several times in the last 20 years about going back to Rwanda. And finally Animal Planet wanted to do a special on it and we thought it was the perfect opportunity to go back.

The purpose of the programme is to show what has happened in Rwanda, particularly with the gorillas; you go up and the group that I spent months with was Dian’s study group 5, which is now called Pablo’s group, and its umbers have doubled. And the big silver-back in charge now is a gorilla that was born when Dian was studying them. His name was Cantbe. He’s the big silver-back in charge and I think his gorilla group is 51 gorillas, so I saw a lot of gorilla friends.

What was the experience like shooting for the programme?

It was like a big reunion trip. I mean it was bittersweet in a way because I hadn’t been to Rwanda since the genocide. I don’t want to underestimate really how painful it was to also go back and see what the country’s been through.

I met so many heroes who really risked their lives for their families, for their communities, but certainly also for the gorillas and for Dian’s work.

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER

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