Photo by Dr. Gaspard Nzayisenga, Field Veterinarian, Rwanda. © Gorilla Doctors

We are at a global tipping point. We all know it. We hear about the deterioration of our planet in the news every single day.

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed we come to a standstill, not knowing where to begin. This is not a criticism – even as a professional conservationist, I can fail to act when I feel helpless witnessing the impacts of habitat destruction, infectious disease, and climate change on our world.

We can no longer afford to simply conserve our natural world.

Of course, it is essential that we slow the decline of wildlife, of nature, of ecosystems, of the demand for resources that require us to continuously extract from our planet. But just conserving and sustaining will not ensure the future of our world, nor will it ensure the health of eastern gorillas, the forests they live in, and all the people who benefit from their existence.

We must restore, transform, and redefine conservation.

Our vision has always been ‘A world with a thriving population of wild eastern gorillas’.

Is it possible for eastern gorillas to truly thrive in the wild?

To be honest, I do not know. So much of their natural forest habitat has been lost and their world is now one in which humans dominate every landscape. And as a result, the health threats to both humans and eastern gorillas are significant.

We do know that we can slow and even reverse decline. The mountain gorilla has been downlisted from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’. In fact, mountain gorillas are the only great ape in the wild whose numbers are increasing and Gorilla Doctors veterinary care accounts for up to 40% of the annual population growth rate of habituated mountain gorillas.

This is extraordinary. This is hope in action!

But I am not thinking about just today or the next decade even. I am imagining 100 years into the future. Beyond my lifetime. Beyond the lifetime of our children. I am thinking about our grandchildren and their children.

We each have both the power and the imperative to transform the future of life on Earth. Gorilla Doctors is just one important thread of a glorious, interconnected web.

What we imagine and implement today will ripple through time, telling the coming generations exactly who we chose to be when it mattered most.

As we begin this new year, I share with you Gorilla Doctors’ core values and guiding principles, created to guide our way forward in every decision we make as an organization.

Now, let’s get to work!

Sincerely, Kirsten Gilardi, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, Executive Director

Gorilla Doctors’ Core Values and Guiding Principles

We imagine a future where Gorilla Doctors…

  • Remains instrumental in securing a healthy, thriving population of eastern gorillas in the wild.
  • Leads the world in wild great ape medicine through exceptional science, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Empowers African veterinarians, scientists, conservationists, and leaders.
  • Sets the standard for excellence and effectiveness in a One Health approach to wildlife conservation.

We work towards this future with an unwavering commitment to…

  • AWE – Revere the natural world we all share.
  • ONE HEALTH – Recognize that the health of animals, people, and the planet are inextricably linked.
  • SCIENCE – Uphold data, facts, and knowledge as our path to discovery and understanding.
  • COLLABORATION – Embrace diverse voices working in community to achieve lasting impact.
  • INTEGRITY – Choose honesty, authenticity, excellence, and respect in every moment.
  • COURAGE – Stay true to our values and persevere in the face of everyday and extraordinary global challenges.