Habitat XR ultimately ‘transported’ hundreds of VIP’s to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda for Ellen DeGeneres and her ‘Gorillapalooza’.
Yes, the American comedian and television host Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi recently organised a fundraiser and raised over $5 million (about R73 891 100,00) for gorilla conservation in Rwanda and brought on a South African company to help.
New Times reports that Ellen exceeded her initial ‘Gorillapalooza’ target which will go into The Ellen Fund. This fund is ultimately dedicated to conservation efforts, particularly for Rwanda’s mountain gorillas. It was later reported that South African company Habitat XR was also brought on to film the mountain gorillas in 360 degrees – which so happens to be their speciality.
Habitat XR is said to be the only dedicated cinematic VR production company in the world currently focused on telling stories about natural history in virtual reality.
“We’re fuelled by our planet’s loss of biodiversity and the incredible power virtual reality has to teleport people around the world into the magic of the wild to care more about it. Modern civilization has lost touch with its wild side, and virtual reality can change that. Everything we produce is aligned with our 3 core pillars: conservation, education and entertainment.“
About the gorilla VR experience brought on by Habitat, Ellen’s wife, Portia said:
“I really wanted it to feel like the gorillas were there because I really need people in their comfortable environments in Los Angeles to be transported to Rwanda and to really feel empathy and have a better understanding of what it is like to be surrounded by these extraordinary creatures.”
The company also said that they’ve made amazing memories while filming for The Ellen Fund.
“In our experience, there are two types of animals: those who are afraid of our free-standing equipment and avoid it, and those who are curious and destructively playful (lions and elephants, we’re looking at you!) These gorillas, particularly the young males, were so curious. But when they got to the camera, they were unbelievably gentle. They gingerly touched it and squeezed it, smelling their fingers after to try understand it.”
The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is The Ellen Fund’s first project.
The Ellen Fund was initially started with one very clear purpose: to continue the conservationist, Dian Fossey’s journey and help save mountain gorillas in the wild.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was created to continue Dian’s legacy after her untimely death. For the past 40 years they have been doing amazing work to assure her mission of saving the gorillas. Not only do they address all threats to the gorillas — from human illnesses to habitat loss — but they also work closely with the surrounding communities to help assure locals and the gorillas can live together in harmony, where each helps the other.
But Dian’s Fund was missing a critical component: a permanent home. The Ellen Fund is supporting The Fossey Fund as it works with the local population, gorillas experts, local and world-class architects, technology sponsors and many others to create a campus.
Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kendall Jenner, Sean Hayes, and Diane Keaton all reportedly donated towards the comedian’s cause to save the endangered mountain gorillas.