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Gorillas in the Mist
SUBJECTS — The Environment; Science-Technology; World/Africa;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Caring for Animals; Courage;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Responsibility; Citizenship.
Age: 13+; MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adult situations and violence; Drama; 1988; 129 minutes; Color.
Gorillas in the Mist portrays the first affectionate communication between a human being and a mountain gorilla in the wild. It also shows the difficult, but ultimately successful, efforts of Dian Fossey to save the mountain gorilla species from extinction. It will inspire children to study and learn about conservation, the environment, the great apes, Africa, and this most remarkable woman.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to Gorillas in the Mist will help teachers use this film to supplement curriculum in ecology, biology and world history.
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Gorillas in the Mist is an amazing tale of communication and caring between species.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below the first two sections of the Learning Guide to Gorillas in the Mist.
Description: Gorillas in the Mist tells the inspiring, yet tragic, story of Dian Fossey. With virtually no training, Ms. Fossey became one of the world's foremost primatologists. She was the first person to record the social structure of African mountain gorillas, interact with them, and form strong affectionate bonds with separate individuals. Gradually, Fossey moved from fascinated observer to passionately aggressive conservationist, determined to protect "her" gorillas at all costs. Acting almost alone, she saved them from extinction. Today the mountain gorillas are still threatened by habitat destruction, but their numbers have increased. Fossey brought their plight to the attention of the entire world, making an enormous contribution to the animal protection and ecology movements.
Benefits: Gorillas in the Mist is an excellent and motivating introduction to primatology, gorillas, and Africa. The movie recreates the wonderful scene in which Fossey becomes the first human being to affectionately communicate with a mountain gorilla in the wild. The movie shows how one person protected an entire species of magnificent animals from extinction.
The movie also shows the dark side of Dian Fossey, how her utter devotion to the cause of the gorillas, combined with isolation and frustration, ultimately led her to use abusive and extreme tactics. Gorillas in the Mist is an excellent study in the nature and risks of obsession.
The movie can also serve to interest children in the "trimates," Fossey and two other women who became identified with the study of the great apes. They are Jane Goodall, who studied the chimpanzees of Tanzania, and Birute Galdikas, less widely known, who did the same for the orangutans of Borneo. Each of these women conducted pioneering research and forged almost miraculous connections with individual animals.
The Learning Guide to the film Gorillas in the Mist contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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