In 2009, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project partnered with the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center (WHC) at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, to form Gorilla Doctors. The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP, Inc) is a 501c3 established in 2006, as a natural evolution from its original “home” as a program of the Morris Animal Foundation.

The legendary Dian Fossey attended UC Davis as an undergraduate student before going on to establish the Karisoke Research Center. She later mentored primatologists and Gorilla Doctors Science Advisor Kelly Stewart and her husband Alexander Harcourt, who went on to serve as faculty in the UC Davis Department of Anthropology. Dr. Linda Lowenstine, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, has served as the chief veterinary pathologist for Gorilla Doctors since its very beginnings in the mid-1980s, so there was a history of collaboration with UC Davis long before the formal partnership began in 2009.

Gorilla Doctors Executive Director Dr. Kirsten Gilardi also serves as the Director of the WHC. Established in 1998, the WHC is an integral component of the School of Veterinary Medicine’s One Health Institute (OHI). The WHC’s mission is to advance healthy wildlife populations in balance with people and the environment. In addition to administering Gorilla Doctors, the WHC runs the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, the SeaDoc Society, the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, and numerous programs and projects focused on wildlife health and conservation, including mountain lions, southern sea otters and many other native wildlife species. The OHI is a multi-disciplinary research, service and teaching unit that brings together dozens of UC Davis faculty, scientists, students, and partner organizations to tackle the complex issues surrounding the health of people, wildlife and ecosystems in the U.S. and internationally. Both the OHI and WHC address these issues using a “One Health” approach, which recognizes that the health of domestic animals, wildlife, and people are inextricably linked with each other and the environment.

From Gorilla Doctors administrative home at the WHC, Dr. Gilardi leads the organization’s efforts to ensure the long-term health and survival of eastern gorillas and the human and animal communities that share their habitat. In addition to monitoring the health of gorillas and caring for injured and ill gorillas, Gorilla Doctors conducts research and develops collaborations that build upon the tremendous resources for animal and human health and agricultural development available at UC Davis.