To celebrate her 60th birthday, Ellen DeGeneres filmed a special episode of The Ellen Show. It was a star-studded affair with appearances by some of Ellen's friends, including Kevin Hart, Channing Tatum, Kristen Bell, and Jamie Foxx. But the pinnacle moment was when surprise guest Portia de Rossi (Ellen's wife), brought her to tears with the birthday gift of a lifetime.
Portia prefaced the gift:
This gift had to be really special, and it had to represent who you are and what you really care about – not just now, but what you've always cared about.
Throughout the years, when asked who she'd most like to interview (alive or dead), Ellen would always respond with her childhood idol, Dian Fossey. Unfortunately, the great conservationist who studied mountain gorillas in central Africa, penned a famous book about them, Gorillas in the Mist, and established the Dian Fossey Fund to help protect them from extinction, was murdered in 1985.
But now, through Portia's gift, Ellen can make her own contribution to Fossey's work with The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda.
Ellen was deeply touched:
It's the best gift.When we got married, Portia's line was, 'It's good to be loved, [but] it's profound to be understood.'She understands me, because that is the best gift that anybody could have given me.
What's more, Portia set up a foundation called the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund. The center in Rwanda is just the first initiative. The fund functions as a platform from which Ellen can expand her conservation efforts to include other endangered species across the globe.
Needless to say, viewers were also moved to tears:
This moved me to tears. What an amazing gift for an amazing human being. The world is definitely a better place because you’re in it. Happiest of birthdays to you! 🎉✨🐾— Megan 🌺 (@M_Horan001) February 1, 2018
I sobbed for ten minutes. My husband came home from work and thought someone had died.— Leslie Noyes (@NoyesNananoyz) February 1, 2018
They were also inspired:
I love how giving Ellen a gift is actually giving back to the world...truly an amazing human being she is— Luna (@lunaaa_0) February 1, 2018
My heart is just all over the place. I remember being so moved by Diane Fossey's work. This is incredible. From incredible people. Awesome human beings!— SoujournerDaTruth (@Bukalove04) February 1, 2018
The love you two have is incredible, for each other and for others in our world, including our beautiful animals. What generous, kind, gorgeous, inspirational women you are. Portia, you make me proud to be Australian! Happy Birthday Ellen xx— Sue McShane (@SueMc_) February 1, 2018
The Fossey Gorilla Fund thanked Ellen for her contribution:
The good news is that the population has nearly doubled since Dian's time, thanks to her unwavering commitment to these magnificent creatures. And with continued support from caring people like you, we'll keep working everyday to carry her legacy forward! #thanksellen— Fossey Gorilla Fund (@SavingGorillas) February 1, 2018
And everyone wanted to wish Ellen a happy birthday:
Happy Birthday! You bring joy to the world when so many of us need it the most.— Sharna Horn (@SharnaNHorn) February 1, 2018