Dame Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall who goes popularly by the name Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934 in London, England. She worked as “an English primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist”. (Wikipedia) Goodall’s best work is her forty five years of study of social and family life of Chimpanzees at the Gombe National Park. She has founded the The Jane Goodall Institute. The Institute has done a wonderful job protecting chimpanzees and their habitats. Her interest and curiosity with chimpanzees started as a little girl when she was given a toy chimpanzee by her father. At the age of four she hid in a henhouse watching a hen lay her eggs.
Goodall’s parents divorced when she was twelve and she had to accompany her mother to her grandmother’s house in Bournemouth. Her meeting with Sir David Attenborough was in Bournemouth and he stirred in Goodall the need to protect higher order primates and their environements. Due to financial constraints Goodall could not continue her university education and had to attend a secretarial school. She worked in small jobs at Oxford University and made a few documentaries for a film studio on the side. When a school friend called and invited her to Kenya, Africa she accepted the offer ecstatically.
She was hired by anthropologist Louis Leakey two months after her arrival in Nairobi as his assistant/secretary at the Corydon Museum. She was also invited to dig at Olduvai Gorge by Louis Leakey and his wife Mary. Later, he decided to let Jane study the Gombe Stream National Park’s chimpanzees. In July 1960 she started her work at Gombe. Her mother accompanied her to this difficult research and study. In 1964, at the request of Leakey, Goodall went to the University of Cambridge and earned a doctorate in ethology. She was one of three women who were referred to as “Leakey’s Angels”.
She married twice; once to a wild life photographer Baron Hugo van Lawick and the second time to Tanzanian Parliament member Derek Bryceson. From her first marriage, she had a son who she nicknamed “Grub”. Her awards and honors can fill up countless pages. Kofi Annan called her the United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2001. In a ceremony held at the Buckingham Palace in 2004 she was honored as the Dame Commander of the British Empire. Her other awards and acheivements include receiving the French Legion of Honor, winning the prestigious Kyoto Prize of Japan and the Gandhi-King Award for Nonviolence.
She was also awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences. She is still a member in the advisory board at the magazine BBC Wildlife and continues to make the cover of National Geographic again and again. She was also the proud winner of “the Albert Schweitzer Award 1987, the Encyclopedia Britannica Award 1989, and the Kyoto Prize for Science 1990”. (Weiss) Her major work in primatology was discovering the ability in chimpanzees to make tools. Before this study only humans were expected to be able to make tools. After Goodall’s study scientists were forced to change their definition of being “human.
” She also discovered that chimpanzees hunt red colobus monkeys cooperatively. She gave each primate a unique name instead of a number. This was a practice not commonly followed by other primatologists. When she first started work in Gombe she faced many difficulties. The chimpanzees were unfreindly and would not allow her anywhere near them. So, she observed their activity from “the peak”. This observational point overlooked the reserve. However, after the initial disappointment she learnt that Bananas could be a way to lure the chimpanzees into cooperating with her.
To her surprise, the chimps grew very close to her and would often kiss or touch her. She discovered in 1960 that chimpanzees were omnivores like humans. She found this out when she saw a male chimp “David Greybeard” eating a bush pig. In 1966 she found out that chimpanzees can also get AIDS and POLIO. Another astounding discovery was that some chimpanzees were also cannibals. A female chimp named Passion attacked and ate infants for two years. She also saw a female chimp adopting a baby chimp named Mel after his mother had died of pneumonia. Her major discoveries are recorded in her books.
These include Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love, The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours, Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters (Vol. II), Africa in my Blood: An Autobiography in Letters (Vol. I) , Jane Goodall: 40 Years at Gombe, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, Brutal Kinship, With Love, Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People, Through a Window, In the Shadow of Man, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, Innocent Killers and My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees.
She also wrote many interesting books for children which include Rickie and Henri: A True Story, The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours, The Eagle and the Wren, Dr. White, With Love, The Chimpanzee Family Book, The Chimpanzee Family: Jane Goodall Animal Series, My Life with the Chimpanzees, Grub the Bush Baby. All the books incorporate the same message to children which is to love and respect animals. Jane still works as the Director of Research at Gombe. She was behind the Chimpanzee Guardian Project which takes care of injured or orphaned chimps found anywhere in the world.
She now spends her time between Bournemouth and Dares Salaam, Tanzania and lecturing all around the world. Jane Goodall has taught millions how a single individual can make a dramatic difference in this world. Her imagination and determination lead her to live a life full of adventure and accomplishment. She has revolutionized how animals are treated in zoos and laboratories. She continues to make the world a better place for the animal kingdom.
WORKS CITED: • “Jane Goodall”. Minnesota State University Mankato. 2002. 30 Apr 2007 http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/fghij/goodall_jane.html