About Gorilla Doctors

Gorilla Doctors is dedicated to saving the mountain gorilla species one gorilla patient at a time. Our international veterinarian team provides hands-on medical care to sick and injured mountain gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With only 780 mountain gorillas left in the world today, the health and well being of every individual gorilla is vital to the species’ survival.

In addition to providing mountain gorillas with healthcare, our veterinary team monitors the health of DRC’s Grauer’s, or eastern lowland, gorillas and intervenes to help sick individuals when possible. The Gorilla Doctors also help rescue and treat mountain and Grauer’s gorillasorphaned by poachers.

While critically endangered, mountain gorillas are the only great ape species whose numbers in the wild are growing in number. A 2010 census of the entire population living in the Virunga Volcanoes Massif showed a remarkable population increase of 26.3% over the previous 7 years. A 2011 study* of this same population showed that over a 22-year period the number of habituated gorillas—about 70% of the overall population—increased by 4.1% annually while the number of unhabituated gorillas decreased by 0.7% annually. Habituated gorillas are gorillas that have learned to accept humans in close proximity. The difference in these growth rates was attributed to the fact that habituated gorillas benefited from “extreme conservation” practices such as veterinary care. In fact, the work of the Gorilla Doctors may be responsible for up to 40% of the difference between the growth rates of the two subpopulations. Mountain gorillas have a fighting chance for survival if we continue to work to address conservation challenges.

The Gorilla Doctors healthcare program includes:

  • Monitoring the health of mountain gorilla groups to ensure the early detection of disease and injury.
  • Staging medical interventions to dart sick animals with antibiotics or anesthetize and treat gorillas suffering from human-induced or life-threatening trauma.
  • Rescuing and providing veterinary care to gorillas orphaned by poachers.
  • Documenting and studying health trends to better predict disease outbreaks.
  • Conducting post mortem examinations on dead gorillas to learn all that we can about the health problems that contributed to their deaths.
  • Preserving tissue and fluid samples to be used by researchers investigating primate health issues.
  • Providing preventive healthcare to the dedicated park personnel who protect the gorillas, and to the people and their animals that live near gorilla habitat, in order to reduce the risk of inter-species disease transmission.

The work of Gorilla Doctors would not be possible without the collaboration of the wildlife authorities of the countries where mountain gorillas live: the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), L’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). We also work with a number of other gorilla conservation groups, especially the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP).

As a 501(c)3-registered nonprofit organization, we are funded solely through grants and donations. Our tax ID is 06-1752363.

*PLoS One 6(6) e19788


Our Proven Success

While critically endangered, mountain gorillas are the only subspecies of non-human great ape growing in number. A 2010 census of the Virunga Volacnoes Massif, the mountain gorilla’s main stronghold, showed a remarkable population increase of 26.3% over the previous 7 years. A 2011 study* of this same population showed that over a 22-year period the number of habituated gorillas—about 70% of the overall population—increased by 4.1% annually while the number of unhabituated gorillas decreased by 0.7% annually. The difference in the growth rates was attributed to the fact that habituated gorillas benefited from “extreme conservation” practices such as veterinary care. In fact, the MGVP’s veterinary program may be responsible for up to 40% of the difference between the growth rates of the two subpopulations. This species has a fighting chance for survival if we continue to work to address conservation challenges.


The MGVP’s gorilla healthcare program includes:

  • Monitoring the health of mountain gorilla groups to ensure the early detection of disease and injury.
  • Staging medical interventions to dart sick animals with antibiotics or anesthetize and treat gorillas suffering from human-induced or life-threatening trauma.
  • Rescuing and providing veterinary care to gorillas orphaned by poachers.
  • Documenting and studying health trends to better predict disease outbreaks.
  • Conducting post mortem examinations on dead gorillas to learn more about the health problems that contributed to their deaths.
  • Preserving tissue and fluid samples to be used by researchers investigating primate health issues.
  • Providing healthcare to people and their animals that live near gorilla habitat in order to reduce the risk of inter-species disease transmission.

MGVP’s work would not be possible without the collaboration of the wildlife authorities of the countries where mountain gorillas live: the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), L’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). We also work with a number of other gorilla conservation groups, especially the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP).


Go to the Gorilla Doctors website to learn more. To find the most up-to-date news and photos about the gorillas and our work, follow our Facebook page.


Please consider supporting MGVP by making a secure online donation. Every dollar you give goes to directly supporting our gorilla health programs and One Health initiative.


*PLoS One 6(6) e19788