Dame Jane Morris Goodall is a world renowned anthropologist and primatologist. With more than 55 years spent studying the life of wild chimpanzees, she’s considered the world’s number 1 expert on them. Her experience with the chimpanzees began in 1960 when she went to Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Over the years, she has worked tirelessly in championing for animal welfare issues and conservation. She’s the founder of the Roots & Shoots programs, plus the Jane Goodall Institute. Jane was named a UN Messenger of Peace in April 2002. Some of the facts about Jane that you may find interesting are:
She was born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall in Hampstead, London, the year 1934. Her love for animals began when her father gave her a stuffed chimpanzee. Jane notes that family friends were worried that the unusual toy would give her nightmares. On the contrary, it cultivated her love and fascination for animals. Her stuffed chimpanzee was named Jubilee, and Jane still has it in her possession.
Jane’s relationship with Africa began when she visited a friend in the Kenyan highlands back in 1957. She decided to stay and pursue her passion for animals. She ended up working with famous archaeologist and paleontologist, Louis Leakey. Louis first sent Jane to Olduvai Gorge, a famous archaeological site in Tanzania. He later sent her back to London where she studied primate anatomy with John Napier and primate behavior with Osman Hill. Her next expedition came in 1960, when she went to begin her study in Gombe Stream National Park.
Goodall became the eighth person to get permission to study for a PhD without having an undergraduate degree, neither BA nor BSc. She obtained a PhD in ethology from Newnham College, Cambridge. Her thesis on the ‘Behaviour of free-living chimpanzees’ was completed in 1965. It detailed her first five years at the Gombe Reserve.
Jane was first married to Baron Hugo van Lawick. Baron Lawick was a wildlife photographer, and the two were married in London. This was in 1964. This marriage gave her the title of Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall. They had a son in 1967. In 1974 they divorced and Jane married Derek Bryceson in 1975. Bryceson was a member of the Tanzanian parliament and the director of the country’s national park. In his position, he protected Jane’s research project. In October 1980, he died of cancer.
Jane Goodall in her research revealed that chimpanzees also exhibited what were at the time known to be exclusively human behaviors. She established that they had individual personalities and were capable of emotions such as sorrow and joy. Jane observed actions such as hugging, kissing, tickling and giving each other pats on the back. She also noted that their social relationships were very much similar to those of humans, where they remained in family settings and communities for an entire lifespan.
At the time of her research, researchers usually indicated animals using numbers. Jane, however, decided to give all her subjects names. Some of her chimpanzee companions were named David Greybeard, Flo, Mr. McGregor and Frodo.