When Jane Goodall was just 2 years old, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee named Jubilee, beginning her lifelong love affair with animals. Goodall’s favorite books as a child were about animals, including “The Story of Dr. Doolittle,” “The Jungle Book,” and the Tarzan books. By the age of 10, she dreamed of going to Africa to live with animals.
When she was 23, Goodall boarded a ship that took her from her home in England to Kenya. There she met Dr. Louis Leakey, a renowned paleontologist and anthropologist. Dr. Leakey was impressed with Goodall and hired her as his assistant. She traveled with Dr. Leakey and his wife Mary Leakey to Olduvai Gorge on a fossil-hunting expedition. Though she enjoyed the expedition, it was clear to Goodall that she would prefer to study living animals.
Recognizing her unique talent, Dr. Leakey offered Goodall, who had no formal research training, the chance to study the wild chimpanzees of the Gombe Reserve in Tanganyika (now Tanzania)—a very daring adventure for a young Englishwoman. In 1960 Goodall arrived in Tanzania to begin her research at Gombe. It was very difficult for the first few months as the chimpanzees fled from Goodall in fear. She persevered, and eventually, the chimpanzees allowed her closer. She began what has become the longest field study of any animal species in their natural habitat, now carried on by other researchers. One of Goodall’s most significant discoveries was that the chimpanzees would strip leaves off of twigs to fashion tools for fishing termites from a nest. Previously, it had been believed that humans were the only species to craft tools. In fact, humans were described by anthropologists as “Man the Toolmaker.”
In 1986, Goodall’s life path took a new direction. After attending a conference of chimpanzee experts in Chicago, she became fully aware of the devastating environmental threats that, if left unchecked, could easily wipe out the entire population of wild chimpanzees. Goodall decided to give up her life in Gombe and became a tireless advocate for environmental conservation and education.
Today, Jane Goodall is one of the most recognized and celebrated female scientists in history. She travels the world more than 300 days per year, and she is widely known as an environmentalist and humanitarian. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (www.janegoodall.org), which now has offices in 20 countries working to promote community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa. The institute also operates a global youth environmental education program, Roots & Shoots, which has tens of thousands of members in 100 countries.
Though best known for her work with chimpanzees, Goodall is passionate about protecting all animals as well as their natural surroundings and the global environment. Among her many honors, she has been named a Dame of the British Empire (the female equivalent of a knighthood). She also has been awarded the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, the Franklin Medal, the French Legion of Honor, the UNESCO Gold Medal Award, and the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Prize. She has been presented the Medal of Tanzania and Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize and has twice been named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Stewardship. Pass It On!
This billboard about Stewardship features Jane Goodall; primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, UN Messengerof Peace.