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Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is a British primatologist, anthropologist and UN Messenger of Peace. She's one of the few female primatologists in the world and she's considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzee behavior. She's also famous for her 45-year study of wild chimpanzees at the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall was born in London, England on April 3, 1934. Her father was a salesman and her mother was a novelist. When she received a lifelike chimpanzee toy as a child, she developed an interest in learning about animals. She also loved to read Tarzan, and this led to her interest in African wildlife.

At age 22, Jane Goodall's life changed forever when a friend invited her to her family's farm in Kenya. When Jane arrived there, within a few weeks she met prominent anthropologist and future mentor Louis S.B. Leakey. Louis believed that a long-term study of chimpanzees' behavior would be important to understanding the evolutionary process among animals in general. He felt that Jane's passion for studying animals would make her a good fit for doing an understudy of chimpanzees on a lakeshore in Tanzania.

One groundbreaking observation that Jane made was that tool-making wasn't just a characteristic of humans. She made this observation by watching the way chimpanzees made and used tools. In addition, she shattered the established opinion that chimpanzees were vegetarians by stating that she observed chimpanzees as they hunted for animals such as bush pigs, colobus monkeys and other animals for consumption.

And in 1970, she watched the chimpanzees engage in spontaneous dance movements, which led her to believe that these expressions are what led the early humans to the discovery of religion. Also in the 1970s, Jane realized that chimpanzees were capable of making war amongst themselves, and she came to this conclusion when observing two groups of chimpanzees involved in a battle that lasted four years.

Another observation she made was that chimpanzees were also capable of human emotion and this was done by the way they embrace each other for comfort and how they use their specific skills in order to help others in the group. As for chimpanzees' familial bonds, Jane Goodall mentioned that while the male doesn't have an active role in the family, he plays a role in social stratification among the chimpanzee caste system. In this system, the dominant male or "alpha male" is at the top while less-dominant male chimpanzees are at the body.

From 1970 to 1975, Jane was a visiting professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and in 1973 she was an honorary professor of Zoology at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. In recent years, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports research on wild chimpanzees as well as other African wildlife issues. In her 1990 book Through the Wild, she says:

"The more we learn of the true nature of nonhuman animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding social behavior, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in service of man-- whether this be in entertainment, as pets in research laboratories or any other uses to which we subject them."

There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Jane Goodall biography presented above there is a teensy weensy secret that needs to come out now. And that secret is that Jane Goodall in the wild likes to entertain the chimps by making shadow hand puppets and imitating the voice of Donald Duck.


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