Gorilla Foundation

Spring-Summer 2003
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Earned Income,
Strategic Planning
Organization Type


The Gorilla Foundation (TGF) is a research and conservation organization dedicated to studying interspecies communication and preserving gorillas.


The centerpiece of TGF is Koko, a female gorilla who has learned American Sign Language. Koko lives at a facility in Woodside, California. Land has been donated in Maui, Hawaii, which is a habitat well-suited to gorillas, to establish a gorilla sanctuary. TGF is raising money to build the required facilities at the sanctuary and to move its operations there.

Project Objectives

ACT was commissioned to evaluate the financial feasibility of building a visitor center to raise money and to provide education and outreach to the local and tourist communities in Maui. The goals of TGF in building a visitor center are to raise public awareness, generate funds to support its mission, create a positive community presence, and coalesce groups helping great apes.

Project Overview

The ACT team studied the economics of museums, zoos, and aquariums. Team members interviewed experts who had raised sponsorship funds for similar projects and evaluated the demand of the tourism industry in Maui for such a center.

Key Recommendations

  • Due to resource constraints, TGF must not make decisions that put existing resources and operations at risk
  • Adopt a phased approach to realizing its goals, which entails: relocating to Maui, initiating outreach to the local Maui community, strengthening local ties and generating awareness of TGF, developing working relationships with local tourist-oriented organizations, and re-evaluating options based on community support and overall goals
  • Evaluate a range of concepts and options for achieving these goals, acknowledging that a visitor center may not be optimal for meeting any of these

Final Report Outline

  • Project objectives
  • Working assumptions/hypotheses
  • Work plan
  • Statistics (Maui tourism, sample attractions, operating sales, museum store sales)
  • Key findings, tourist attractions, funding, profitability
  • Implications for TGF
  • Concept evaluation framework
  • Key recommendations
  • A phased approach: in detail
  • ACT project team


  • Statistics: Maui population, tourism industry, and tourist attractions
  • Operating results: museums, zoos, and aquariums, with special information on museum store sales