Founder, Ruth Keesling
Ruth Keesling learned to love animals at an early age. She grew up in the first small animal hospital in the country, established by her veterinarian father, Dr. Mark L. Morris, in New Jersey.
Ruth graduated from the University of Colorado in journalism in 1953. She became a partner in Mark Morris Associates and Theracon Laboratories, the family's animal nutritional research organizations, which developed Prescription Diets and Science Diets for dogs and cats.
Since 1948, she worked as a lifetime trustee and executive committee member to develop the Morris Animal Foundation, which is dedicated to solving health problems in companion animals and wildlife.
At the request of Dian Fossey, in 1985, she founded the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project for mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To date, 17 veterinarians have now served in Africa. Keesling also served as president of the Digit Fund (predecessor to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund) from 1987 to 1991 and served as President International from 1991 to 1993. She still serves on the board of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund - Europe.
The Rwandan Government appointed Ruth head of their Governmental Task Force in 2000 and Ruth established the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund in 2001 to implement many of the task force projects for the mountain gorillas, their habitat, and the people surrounding the park.
As Lifetime Trustee of the Denver Zoological Foundation, she developed an educational program, veterinary program and was instrumental in starting the $16 million dollar Primate Panorama project for the gorillas and orangutans in their captive environment.
Ruth is past president of the University of Colorado Alumni Association and the University of Colorado awarded her the Outstanding Alumni in 1976. She co-founded the Cherry Hills Cultural Arts Center at their elementary school. She received the Pi Beta Phi Carolyn Lichtenberg award for excellence and outstanding leadership in her career and volunteer service.
She and husband, Tom, reside part of the year in Englewood, Colorado and part-time in Naples, Florida. For 45 years they have operated Travel Associates, Inc. a company that designs special interest programs and soft adventure programs around the world.