Gorilla Doctors/Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
Volcanos National Park, Rwanda Development Board
Bwinidi Nation Park 
Martha Robbins/Max Planck Institute
Kerry Bownman/Canadian Ape Alliance

Key Interviews

Director, Gorilla Doctors
Dr. Mike has led Gorilla Doctors team for 13 years, splitting his time between overseeing operations in Africa, fundraising on the road, and administering the project from his base at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. He was one of the first veterinarians to embrace the One Health concept for great ape conservation, and worked to establish Gorilla Doctors with the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, where he is a staff veterinarian. Originally from Peterborough, Ontario, Dr. Mike obtained his doctorate of veterinary medicine at the University of Guelph in 1977 and completed his residency at the Toronto Zoo. He later moved to the Maryland Zoo where, in addition to his clinical duties, he pursued research on avian malaria in penguins, parasitic diseases in snakes, in vitro fertilization in lion-tailed macaques, and captive breeding of endangered frog species. In 1999, after realizing that work with captive animals was not enough to preserve some species, Mike took on the leadership of Gorilla Doctors.

Martha is a primatologist and professor at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.  She has been studying the mountain gorilla in Africa since 1990 in all of their locations, but has focused her studies most recently on the population in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda.  Her 2011-published study analyzed effects on gorilla demographics on Virunga mountain gorillas and found habituated gorillas have been growing at a higher rate (4% growth rate) than unhabituated gorillas (0.7% decline per year). Detection and veterinary treatment of illness/injury was concluded to account for up to 40% of the difference between the habituated versus unhabituated groups.

Head Veterinarian, Democractic Republic of Congo, Gorilla Doctors
Dr. Eddy has worked as the DRC Field Veterinarian since 2004 and was promoted to Head Veterinarian of DRC in 2011. Dr. Eddy’s duties include monitoring both the mountain and Grauer’s gorilla populations in DRC and caring for the mountain gorilla orphans at the Senkwekwe sanctuary. He also occasionally assists with veterinary operations in Rwanda and Uganda. He received his veterinary degree at the Catholic University of Graben, Butembo, in the DRC. Before joining the MGVP, he was a scholar at the Technical Institute for Agriculture and Veterinary Science in Butembo, DRC.

Head Veterinarian, Rwanda, Gorilla Doctors
Serving as a Rwanda Field Veterinarian since 2004, Dr. Jean-Felix was promoted to Head Veterinarian of Rwanda in 2011. He takes the lead on health monitoring and interventions for Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, and assists with interventions in Uganda and DRC as needed. Dr. Jean-Felix also heads up our Gorilla Doctors’ rabies vaccination program in Rwanda, working with local veterinarians and the Rwanda Agricultural Board to vaccinate domestic dogs and cats in the vicinity of Volcanoes National Park. Originally from DRC, Dr. Jean-Felix received his veterinary degree from Check Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, in 2003. Dr. Jean-Felix recently finished his Masters of Field Epidemiology at the School of Public Health at National University of Rwanda.

Laurie is a graduate student researcher at the University of California, Davis Wildlife Institute / One Health Institute focusing on wildlife epidemiology.  In Rwanda, her project involves analyzing samples from gorillas and people in surrounding communities to understand disease transmission between the two. 

Emmanuel De Merode is a biological anthropologist and the Chief Warden for Virunga National Park.  Before being named park director in 2008, he had worked in Virunga for seven years, then joined with renowned conservationist Richard Leakey to form WildlifeDirect, an NGO focused on protecting the mountain gorillas.  He leads the 680 Virunga Park Rangers dedicated to protecting the mountain gorillas and the amazing wildlife and natural resources in this UNESCO world heritage site from illegal oil exploration, poaching, illegal charcoal production and civil conflict. 

Andre is a Virunga Park Ranger and the primary caretaker of Ndeze, Ndakasi, Maisha and Matabishi, the only mountain gorillas in captivity in the world.  He began his career as a gorilla guide and ranger in the Mikeno sector of Virunga park, but after the gorilla massacre in 2007 which left Ndeze and Ndakasi orphaned, he dedicated his life to their survival.

Innocent is the Warden of Rumangabo Station, Virunga National Park as well as the Mikeno sector, the home to the mountain gorillas in DRC.  Innocent has been a ranger since 2007, and he comes from a long line of park rangers: his father was one as well as his late brother, who was killed in the line of duty in 1996. 

Kerry is a bioethicist, conservationist and co-founder of the Canadian Ape Alliance – which has projects running in DRCongo that focus on education and conservation.  Kerry is the clinical ethicist for Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and holds an academic appointment with the University of Toronto in Family and Community Medicine. 


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