As if it weren't clear before she turned 60, Ellen DeGeneres is one well-loved lady. To celebrate the star's big birthday on January 26, well wishes and presents poured in from pals like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Michelle Obama, and Jennifer Aniston. (No big deal.) But, DeGeneres' wife Portia de Rossi gave her the gift to end all gifts.
On February 2, De Rossi surprised her wife by appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. As it turns out, De Rossi had been planning a very special gift for her beloved. Explaining that she wanted to find a way to touch upon all of DeGeneres' passions — including philanthropy and wildlife conservation — De Rossi cued up a video that explained her wife's lifelong admiration for Dian Fossey.
The author of Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey was a pioneering primatologist who set up a research center in the wilds of Rwanda in the 1960s. Until her death in 1985, Fossey intensely studied the mountain gorillas that surrounded her.
Now, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International carries on the researcher's legacy, and works to ensure the survival and welfare of mountain gorillas. In Rwanda, the fund's headquarters serve as a research station for students and scientists from around the world.
This led De Rossi to her gift. "For your birthday, Ellen," she announced, "I am bringing you and your hero Dian together by building the Ellen DeGeneres campus of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund... Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing mountain gorillas. Happy birthday."
And, here's where avid travelers like you fit in: While DeGeneres' namesake campus will be used for education and research, it will also serve as a tourism destination. "Where is it — Burbank?" Ellen joked. While you'll actually have to travel a bit farther than that to check out the new campus, we're pretty sure the trek will be worth it.
Happy birthday, indeed! Watch the clip below to see the special moment — and be sure to have your tissues on standby.
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