It's a pleasure today to feature an amazing woman. I guess everyone has heard of Jane Goodall, who was recently in Australia. Wow, what an outstanding woman; a person who made heaps of sense every time she said something.
Who Is Jane Goodall?
Jane Goodall is a renowned British primatologist and ethologist, who expanded our understanding of chimpanzees and the scientific world’s way of conducting research in the wild. Best known for her decades of living among the chimps of the Gombe Stream Reserve in Africa, she is also well known for her efforts toward conservation and activism on behalf of animals and the natural environment.
Dates: April 3, 1934 –
Also Known As: Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall, V.J. Goodall, Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, Dr. Jane Goodall
Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall was born in London, England, on April 3, 1934. Her parents were Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall, a businessman and race-car driver, and Margaret Myfanwe “Vanne” Joseph, a secretary when the pair married in 1932, turned housewife, who would later become a novelist under the name Vanne Morris Goodall. A younger sister, Judy, would complete the Goodall family four years later.
With war declared in England in 1939, Mortimer Morris-Goodall enlisted. Vanne moved with her two young daughters to her mother’s home in the seaside town of Bournemouth, England. Jane saw little of her father during the war years and her parents divorced in 1950. Jane continued to live with her mother and sister at her grandmother’s home.
From her very earliest years, Jane Goodall loved animals. She received a stuffed-toy chimpanzee named Jubilee from her father when she was a toddler and endlessly carried it with her (she still has the well-loved and worn Jubilee today). She also had a menagerie of living pets including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, caterpillars, snails, and a hamster.
Along with an early love of animals, Goodall seemed fascinated by them as well. As a young child, she kept a wildlife journal detailing observations from such research as hiding out for hours in the henhouse to witness how hens lay eggs. Another story reports she brought a pocketful of earth and worms into her bed to start a colony under her pillow to observe the earthworms. In both of these instances, Goodall’s mother did not scold, but encouraged her young daughter’s interest and enthusiasm.
As a child, Goodall loved to read The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting and Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burrough. Through these books she developed a dream to visit Africa and study the abundance of wildlife there.
Fortuitous Invitation and Meeting
Jane Goodall graduated from high school in 1952. With limited funds for further education, she enrolled in secretarial school. After some time working as a secretary and then as an assistant for a filmmaking company, Goodall received an invitation from a childhood friend to come for a visit. The friend was living in Africa at the time. Goodall abruptly quit her job in London and moved back home to Bournemouth where she secured a job as a waitress in an effort to save money for fare to Kenya.
In 1957, Jane Goodall sailed to Africa. Within weeks of being there, Goodall started work as a secretary in Nairobi. Shortly thereafter, she was encouraged to meet Dr. Louis Leakey, famed archeologist and paleontologist. She made such a positive first impression that Dr. Leakey hired her on the spot to replace his departing secretary at the Coryndon Museum.
Soon thereafter, Goodall was invited to join Dr. Leakey and his wife, Dr. Mary Leakey (an anthropologist), on a fossil digging expedition at Olduvai Gorge in the Serengeti National Park. Goodall readily accepted.
Dr. Louis Leakey wanted to complete a longitudinal study of chimpanzees in the wild to obtain possible clues of human evolution. He asked Jane Goodall, who had no advance education, to oversee such a study at the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve at Lake Tanganyika in what is now known as Tanzania .
In June 1960, Goodall, along with her mother as a companion (the government refused to allow a young, single woman to travel alone in the jungle), entered the reserve to observe wild chimps in their natural environment. Goodall’s mother remained about five months but was then replaced by Dr. Leakey’s assistant. Jane Goodall would stay in the Gombe Reserve, off and on, conducting research for more than 50 years.
During her initial months at the reserve, Goodall had difficulty observing the chimps as they would scatter as soon as they detected her. But with persistence and patience, Goodall was shortly granted access to the chimpanzees’ daily behaviors.
Goodall took careful documentation of physical appearances and mannerisms. She recorded individual chimps with names, which at the time was not practice (scientists at the time used numbers to name research subjects so as not to personify the subjects). Within the first year of her observations, Jane Goodall would make two very important discoveries.
The first discovery came when Goodall witnessed the chimps eating meat. Prior to this discovery, chimpanzees were thought to be herbivores. The second came a short time later when Goodall observed two chimps strip leaves off a twig and then proceed to use the bare twig to “fish” for termites in a termite mound, which they were successful at doing. This was an important discovery, because at the time, scientists thought only humans made and used tools.
Over time, Jane Goodall would go on to observe the chimps stalking and hunting small animals, large insects, and birds. She also recorded acts of violence, use of stones as weapons, warfare, and cannibalism among the chimps. On the lighter side, she learned that chimps have the ability to reason and problem-solve, as well as have a complex social structure and system of communication.
Goodall also found that chimpanzees demonstrate a range of emotions, use touch to comfort one another, develop significant bonds between mother and offspring, and maintain generational attachments. She recorded the adoption of an orphaned chimp by an unrelated adolescent male and saw chimps demonstrate affection, cooperation, and helpfulness. Due to the study’s longevity, Goodall witnessed the life stages of chimpanzees from infancy to death.
After Goodall’s first year at the Gombe Reserve and her two major discoveries, Dr. Leakey advised Goodall to obtain a Ph.D. so she would have the ability to secure additional funding and continue the study on her own. Goodall entered the ethology doctoral program at Cambridge University in England without an undergraduate degree and during the next few years would split her time between classes in England and continuing research at Gombe Reserve.
When the National Geographic Society (NGS) provided funding for Goodall’s research in 1962, they sent Dutch photographer Hugo van Lawick to supplement the article Goodall was to write. Goodall and Lawick soon fell in love and were married in March 1964.
That fall, NGS approved Goodall’s proposal for a permanent research center at the reserve, which allowed the ongoing study of chimpanzees by other scientists and students. Goodall and van Lawick lived together at the Gombe Research Center, although both continuing their independent work and travelled as needed.
In 1965, Goodall completed her Ph.D., a second article for National Geographic Magazine, and starred in a CBS television special, Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees. Two years later, on March 4, 1967, Jane Goodall gave birth to her only child, Hugo Eric Louis van Lawick (nicknamed Grub), who would be raised in the African jungle. She also published her first book, My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees, that year.
Over the years, the traveling demands of both their careers seemed to take its toll and in 1974, Goodall and van Lawick divorced. A year later, Jane Goodall married Derek Bryceson, the director of the Tanzania National Park. Unfortunately, their union was cut short when Bryceson died five years later from cancer.
Beyond the Reserve
With the Gombe Stream Research Center growing and a need for fundraising increasing, Goodall began to spend more time away from the reserve during the 1970s. She also spent time writing, with her internationally successful book, In the Shadow of Man , released in 1971.
In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation (known simply as the Jane Goodall Institute). This nonprofit organization promotes the conservation of primate habitat and the well-being of chimpanzees and other animals, as well as fostering positive relationships among all living things and the environment. It continues today, making an extra special effort to reach young people, who Goodall believes will be more responsible leaders of tomorrow with conservation education.
Goodall also started the program Roots & Shoots in 1991 to assist young people with community projects that are attempting to make the world a better place. Today, Roots & Shoots is a network of tens of thousands kids in more than 120 countries.
Another global program was started by the Jane Goodall Institute in 1984 to improve the lives of captive chimps. ChimpanZoo, the largest research study of chimpanzees in captivity ever undertaken, observes captive chimps’ behavior and compares it to that of their counterparts in the wild and makes recommendations for improvements for those in captivity.
From Scientist to Activist
With the release of her lengthy book, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior , which detailed her 25 years of research at the reserve, Goodall attended a large conference in Chicago in 1986 that brought scientists together from around the world to discuss chimpanzees. While at this conference, Goodall developed a deep concern for their shrinking numbers and disappearing natural habitat, as well as the inhumane treatment of chimpanzees in captivity.
Since that time, Jane Goodall has become a dedicated advocate for animal rights, species conservation, and habitat protection, particularly for chimpanzees. She travels more than 80 percent of each year, speaking publically to encourage individuals to be responsible caretakers of the natural environment and animals.
Messenger of Peace
Jane Goodall has received a number of recognitions for her work; among them are the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize in 1984, the National Geographic Society Centennial Award in 1988, and in 1995 she was given the status of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Additionally, as a prolific writer, Jane Goodall has published numerous well-received articles and books about chimpanzees, her life with them, and conservation.
In April 2002, Goodall was named a UN Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for her commitment to creating a safer, more stable, and harmonious natural world. She was re-appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007.
Jane Goodall continues her work with the Jane Goodall Institute promoting conservation education and awareness for the natural environment and its animals. She travels yearly to the Gombe Stream Research Center and though she is no longer involved in the day-to-day field research of the longest unbroken study of an animal group, she still enjoys time with the chimpanzees in the wild.
Clancy's comment: What an outstanding human. Go, Jane! Love ya work.