LOS ANGELES — Ellen DeGeneres was moved to tears on her show on Thursday, when her wife, Portia de Rossi, gave her a very special gift. DeGeneres was celebrating her 60th birthday on the episode and began to cry when de Rossi presented her with her own namesake gorilla conservation center.
De Rossi announced the gift and said the donation to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will create a permanent home in Rwanda for the organization that has been protecting endangered mountain gorillas for 50 years. DeGeneres was surprised to see her wife on set.
"It's your 60th birthday and this gift had to be really special and it had to represent who you are and what you really care about," said de Rossi. "Not just now, but what you've always cared about. What you were influenced by and what has made you the amazing person that you are today." She then played a video that introduced the audience to conservationist Dian Fossey, who also wrote "Gorillas in the Mist." Fossey, who died in 1985, is one of DeGeneres' heroes.
"Ellen, you will carry on Dian's legacy by giving them a permanent home in Rwanda," said de Rossi. "Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals, the mountain gorillas. Happy birthday!"
DeGeneres said in a statement Thursday that she is "beyond excited" about the opportunity to work with the group. She said de Rossi "knew the exact right gift to give me."
DeGeneres has been an animal-rights activist for many years. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals named her "woman of the year" in 2009.