Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, Calif., in 1932. Her parents divorced when she was young, so Dian grew up with her mother and stepfather. By all accounts, she was an excellent student and was extremely interested in animals from a very young age. At age 6, she began horseback riding lessons and in high school earned a letter on the riding team. When Dian enrolled in college courses at Marin Junior College, she chose to focus on business, following the encouragement of her stepfather, a wealthy businessman. She worked while in school, and at age 19, on the summer break following her freshman year of college, she went to work on a ranch in Montana. At the ranch, she fell in love with and developed an attachment to the animals, but she was forced to leave early when she contracted chicken pox.