Life imitated art this week as Ted Turner, the man behind the animated Captain Planet series, bestowed a gift of $1 million to the Dian Fossey International Gorilla Fund to help save endangered gorillas in the eastern Congo.
“Our wonderful friend Ted Turner has stepped up to the plate, and he has given the Dian Fossey Fund the largest gift we have ever received," said Clare Richardson, president and CEO of the Fossey Fund, at a news conference on Wednesday night. “Ted you are a hero.”
The 73-year-old billionaire philanthropist had previously traveled to Rwanda to visit the original site of Dian Fossey's research camp and to view mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
“I’ve been interested in endangered species all along,” Turner said, according to the Saporta Report. “I’ve been watching the work of the Dian Fossey Fund. I just wanted to make a statement. If mankind were to learn to stop killing the great apes, maybe we can stop killing each other.”
In addition to the donation, Turner offered to become an official gorilla spokesperson.
"It comes down to this: every single gorilla counts; every single person counts in protecting the gorillas; and every single dollar counts in supporting the work to protect the gorillas," he said.
Turner, who owns about 2 million acres in the United States and is the largest private landholder in the country, has long believed in the idea of conservation and being a good steward of the environment.
"And as I read about animals and birds, I learned about the extinction of the passenger pigeon and the Labrador duck and other species in North America, particularly the bison," he continued. "I started thinking, gee, if there was something I could do to help bring back the buffalo, I'd sure like to do it."
Today, Turner grazes more than 52,000 bison on his lands, the largest privately owned herd in the United States. Here's to hoping his efforts — and those of the thousands of volunteers and other donors — can help create a better future for gorillas as well.
“I’m proud to be associated with this organization,” he said. “I hope I can be helpful. I love nature and the environment, particularly the gorillas and the mountain apes that are so close to us.”