Ellen DeGeneres spends time with gorillas, giraffes, and Portia during life-changing trip to Africa

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Ellen DeGeneres is in Rwanda at the future home of Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, where she’s making some new friends (i.e., gorillas). (Photo: Ellen DeGeneres via Instagram)

Ellen DeGeneres is on the trip of a lifetime.

For her 60th birthday, the talk show host’s wife, Portia de Rossi, surprised her with her own gorilla conservation center in Rwanda, which will be called the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, because DeGeneres is both an animal lover and a superfan of the late Fossey. So the couple has traveled to Africa together — you may have noticed that DeGeneres has guest hosts on her show — to see the site of the future campus and hang with gorillas and giraffes along the way.

DeGeneres said she’s been waiting her whole life to make the trek. She’s said that the person she’d most like to interview would be the Gorillas in the Mist author, who died in 1985. She’s also said that as a kid, she read every word of a 1970 National Geographic cover story on Fossey that detailed her research camp in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda.

She was thrilled to touch down in the country.

Once there, she got to sit at her hero’s desk, a moving moment for sure.

She was more excited to spend time with the gorillas, watching them play and make gorilla noises.

“I can’t begin to describe what this experience was like, or how much it means to me,” DeGeneres wrote. “I’m so grateful.” (Make sure you play this too because there are more great gorilla noises.)

Her smile kinda says it all.

De Rossi was safari ready with her threads.

One of our favorite photos that De Rossi shared (so far), though, was of DeGeneres taking a “coffee break” during their safari. So casual!

The women hiked with the Fossey Fund CEO, Tara Stoinski, in their gorilla T-shirts.

DeGeneres and De Rossi also met with the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, because this facility is a big deal. It will cost an estimated $10 million to complete; so far, the duo has raised about $8 million, including a mega donation of $4 million that Ashton Kutcher announced would be coming from tech company Ripple.

They talked about gorilla conservation:

The couple’s African adventures began in Kenya, where they also got up close and personal with animals — that time, giraffes.

There was some flirting going on.

They stayed at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.

We’re not sure we’d be able to order either, with all that was going on.

We’re not saying this tops DeGeneres’s infamous Oscars selfie, but it’s close. (What can we say, we love giraffes.)

According to the Gorilla Fund website, DeGeneres’s campus — which will feature 50,000 square feet of building space and a living lab on the grounds — will allow the organization to “expand our science, research, and conservation activities; enhance our educational and community programs; and engage people from Rwanda and the world to join the effort on behalf of wild gorillas.” Depending on fundraising, the goal is to open the facility by 2020.

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