Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 08:56 UK

Rare gorillas make Facebook debut

Jason Biggs, Kristy Wu and Simon Curtis in Kampala, 21/10
Jason Biggs (L) was among the actors in Kampala for the launch

Uganda is preparing to make internet stars of its endangered mountain gorillas - with the help of some human stars from Hollywood.

Officials are launching a "Friend a Gorilla" website to allow readers to become friends with the animals on the Facebook site, for a $1 (£0.60) fee.

Jason Biggs, star of high school comedy American Pie, was among the actors in Kampala to help with the launch.

It is not clear how often the gorillas will update their status.

Officials hope to raise the profile of Uganda and raise cash for conservation.

There are only about 700 of the gorillas left in Africa.

They are found on the slopes of the Virunga mountains on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where several animals have been killed by armed fighters.

In addition to human friends you will have gorilla friends
Lillian Nsubuga

Lillian Nsubuga, of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme she hoped the initiative would raise money for the gorillas and promote Uganda as a tourist destination.

"Anybody with an account on Facebook will be able to click on this micro-site and get into our website," she said.

"When they get there they will find descriptions and faces and all types of photos of the gorillas in Bwindi National Park."

She says readers will be able to work out which particular animal they are fond of.

"If you like him and you choose him then you pay $1 and his face will appear on your Facebook page - then in addition to human friends you will have gorilla friends."

The Friend a Gorilla site is due to go live on Saturday in what Ms Nsubuga is billing as a "gorilla gala" launch.

At the moment, Jason Biggs and other actors are tracking a group of gorillas through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as part of their trip to Uganda.

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