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
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
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.