Jane Goodall changed the way humans understand other animals. Though she is famous for her work with chimpanzees, many don’t know that it all started with a stuffed chimp named Jubilee that she received as a gift from her father when she was a child. Jane was born, Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall on April 3, 1934 in London, England. Her interest in animals sent her on a journey to Africa which lead her on a life long path of studying chimpanzees. She is a global leader in chimpanzee research and the effort to protect their habitat. This allowed her to form the Jane Goodall Institute. After spending most of her life in the jungle studying chimpanzees she’s now traveling the world educating people about them. She may be known for the study of chimpanzees and her approach to the conservation of their species, but Jane Goodall has done so much more.
In 1960, Jane Goodall went to Tanzania to study the Kasakela chimpanzee community in Gombe Stream National Park with the help of archeologist Louis S. B. Leakey. Since her background was not scientific, Jane observed things that other scientists may not have looked at in the same way. At that time scientists numbered the chimpanzees they were studying. Jane had a different approach, she gave them names like Fifi and David Greybeard. By giving her subjects names, she saw that they had unique personalities similar to humans and had traits like joy and sorrow. Jane observed behaviors like hugs, kisses, pats on the back and even tickling. They also had the ability to make and use tools. Her studies were groundbreaking because the findings showed that humans and chimpanzees are the closest living relatives and they had emotions, intelligence and family relationships like us.
In the first 10 years of Jane’s studies, Jane believed that the chimpanzees were nicer than human beings. In time Goodall realized that the chimps had a darker side very much like humans. The chimps could be brutal in hunting and killing other primates for food and to be dominant. Jane immersed herself in her study, she lived with chimpanzees for a period of 55+ years. She also became the lowest ranking member of a chimpanzee troop for 22 months. Jane was the only human ever accepted into chimpanzee society to this day. Jane details this in her book, Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe. Jane Goodall’s observations have redefined the way that society thinks and cares about other species.
In 1977, Jane founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to make sure that her life’s work with chimpanzees would continue to help them and save the world we share. Jane’s focus has shifted from observing chimpanzees to protecting animals and habitat conservation. Today there are nineteen JGI institutes around the world. The JGI is a global leader in efforts to protect wildlife and chimpanzees and their natural habitats. In 1991, sixteen teenagers met with Goodall in Tanzania to discuss world issues and conservation, they called themselves, Roots & Shoots. The organization now has over 10,000 groups in over 100 countries helping to empower young people to make a change. Jane influences people both young and old through her two different organizations to make a difference in the world.
At the age of 85, Jane continues to travel the world educating us about species conservation and the environment. From Jane’s beginnings in London, to her lifetime studying chimpanzees in Tanzania and Africa, she has become their most recognizable advocate in the world. She has helped to save the chimpanzees and their homes by generating world wide interest. Because of Goodall, our knowledge and understanding of chimpanzees and their relationships with one another has expanded and made people care about animals lives. To promote the Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots, Jane spends the majority of her time giving lectures, visiting schools and meeting with young people about the Roots & Shoots program. Jane’s love for a stuffed animal helped lead her to Africa and the study of chimpanzees. To this day Jubilee still sits on a chair in her home in England.
Goodall, Jane, et al. “How Jane Goodall Changed What We Know About Chimps.” National Geographic, 10 Nov. 2017, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/10/becoming-jane-goodall/.
“Jane Goodall.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Aug. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall.
“Our Story.” The Jane Goodall Institute, https://www.janegoodall.org/our-story/.