Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall went to Tanzania for the first time when she was 26 and so began her life’s work with chimpanzees. She spent the next 50+ years studying these amazing animals. She took a groundbreaking approach to studying chimpanzees by actually living with them in their own habitat, rather than removing them to a scientific lab, and naming them, rather than numbering them. In so doing, she was able to observe their social habits and better understand them both as individuals and in their relationships to each other. She learned that they expressed emotions and formed long-term bonds. They hugged and kissed each other, patted each other on the back, and even tickled each other. She observed them making tools and solving problems. Although the first years of her study made her think that chimpanzees were always kind and gentle animals, she later observed that some of their behaviors were violent against each other and other animals. She described observing a coordinated effort to isolate, trap, and kill a colobus monkey that was trying to hide in a tree. She also observed that dominant females sometimes intentionally killed other chimpanzees’ babies. She was born in London and her father gave her a stuffed animal chimpanzee when she was young. This started her love of animals in general and of chimpanzees in particular. She started her research before she received a college degree, but she returned to England and earned a PhD in ethology without ever earning a bachelor’s degree. Her thesis detailed her first five years of chimpanzee study at the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. She established the Jane Goodall Institute, which you can learn more about here. She remains a global leader in advocating for the protection of chimpanzees and their habitat, as well as for communities and the environment.

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