Dr. Jane Goodall began her studies of wild chimpanzees in 1960 at a time when the world thought only man was capable of making and using tools. Her observations of the tool-wielding chimps and their societies turned the world upside-down as people began to understand how complex animal lives could be. Up to that point, scientists had considered humans to be the only species capable of fashioning tools, but Dr. Goodall quickly proved them wrong. Her articles and books informed the world of the tremendous abilities of the remarkable chimpanzees, and helped spawn a greater realization of the abilities of other intelligent animals as well.
Dr. Goodall established herself as a talented scientist through her long-term studies of the chimpanzees at Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania. In fact, those studies continue today, more than fifty years since she first began them. She frequently recounts the challenges she faced from leading authorities because she refused to assign the chimpanzees numbers rather than names. With the publication of her definitive book The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior in 1986, she silenced these criticisms once and for all. In addition to the many research articles and books that she has published, her students have also gone on to be international leaders in the study of great apes and other animals.
In 1986, Dr. Goodall attended an international conference at which it was evident that chimpanzees across Africa were now facing an uncertain future due to the bushmeat trade, deforestation, disease and other threats. In that moment, she made the decision to refocus her work on being a voice for chimpanzees and fighting for their future. Since then, she reports she has not spent more than 3 weeks in a single place. She travels 300 days a year, spreading the word of the now endangered chimpanzees as well as fighting against the many injustices that captive chimpanzees also suffer. In addition, she is also a champion for other endangered species, for forests, and for the planet. Her efforts have earned her the honor of being the planet’s most recognized conservation hero.
She is also a much-recognized United Nations Messenger of Peace, speaking out for refugees and the world’s poor, and helping to create programs to better their livelihoods. One of her passions is the international youth organization, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, that she created and that now exists in more than 120 countries around the world. Youth members work on behalf of animals, their communities, and the environment, and learn the importance of taking action to create change for the better.
Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. —Jane Goodall
Learn more about Jane and her famous Jane Goodall Institute at www.janegoodall.org. For information about Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, visit www.RootsAndShoots.org. (For great videos of Dr. Goodall and her work, visit the Jane Goodall Institute Media page.)
Jane Goodall: A Retrospective