"It's your 60th birthday and this gift had to be really special and it had to represent who you are and what you really care about," de Rossi began. "Not just now, but what you've always cared about. What you were influenced by and what has made you the amazing person that you are today."
de Rossi then presented a clip to the audience that gave the history of one of DeGeneres's longtime heroes, late conversationalist and animal activist Dian Fossey, who passed away in 1985. Fossey was known for her extensive study of mountain gorillas, and for helping to establish the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
"For your birthday, Ellen, I am bringing you and your hero, Dian, together by building The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund," de Rossi announced. DeGeneres was understandably moved to tears.
"Ellen, you will carry on Dian's legacy by giving them a permanent home in Rwanda," de Rossi said. "Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals, the mountain gorillas. Happy birthday!"
Watch the beautiful moment below.
This article previously appeared on InStyle.