Jane Goodall

In the summer of 1960, 26-year-old Jane Goodall arrived on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa to study the area’s wild chimpanzee population. Although at the time it was unheard of for a woman to venture into the African wilderness, Jane persisted as the trip meant the fulfillment of her childhood dream. Jane’s work in Tanzania would prove to be more successful than anyone could have possibly imagined.

Must We Redefine Man?

At first, the chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park fled whenever they noticed Jane. Then gradually they allowed her to come closer and closer. In October 1960 Jane observed two chimps, David Graybeard and Goliath, striping leaves off twigs in order to make tools for fishing termites from a nest. This was truly a ground breaking moment for science as until that moment scientists thought that only humans were capable of making and using tools. In fact, humans were known as “man the tool maker”. This discovery lead to one of Jane’s many accolades “the woman who redefined man”.

“Now we must redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.” (Jane’s mentor, Louis Leakey)

A Profound Effect on Primatology

In 1965, Jane was awarded her Ph.D in Ethology from Cambridge University. Shortly afterwards she returned to Tanzania to continue her research and establish Gombe Stream Research Centre. Throughout many years at Gombe, she made multiple discoveries that radically changed and enriched the field of primatology:

  • Chimpanzees form lasting family relationships and support one another even if they are not related.In 1987 Jane observed adolescent Spindle ‘adopting’ three-year-old orphan Mel, even though the infant was not a close relative.
  • Chimpanzees engage in a primitive form of brutal “warfare.” In 1974, a ‘four-year war’ began at Gombe, the first record of long-term warfare in non-human primates. Members of the Kasakela group systematically killed members of the “Kahama” splinter group.
  • Chimpanzees have surprising courtship patterns. Males take females into consortships in remote areas for days to months.
  • Chimpanzees actively hunt and eat other animals. This evidence disproved previous theories that chimpanzees were primarily vegetarians and fruit eaters who only occasionally supplemented their diet with insects and small rodents.

The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and Jane Goodall Institute Australia (JGIA)

In 1977, Dr Goodall realised that to best help her beloved chimpanzees, she would have to leave the forest. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute to provide ongoing support for field research on wild chimpanzees and fight to protect the habitat in which they live. Today, there are JGI chapters in 35 countries around the world all working to support Dr Goodall’s vision and legacy. At JGIA, our pursue is to “inspire actions that connect people with animals and our shared environment”. JGI is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa and the Roots & Shoots education program in nearly 100 countries.

Dr Jane Goodall’s Honors

Dr Goodall’s many honors include: the Medal of Tanzania, the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal, Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research 2003, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, and the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence.In April 2002, Secretary-General Annan named Dr Goodall a United Nations “Messenger of Peace.” Messengers help mobilize the public to become involved in work that makes the world a better place. They advocate in a variety of areas: poverty eradication, human rights, peace and conflict resolution, HIV/AIDS, disarmament, community development and environmentalism. In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II named Dr Goodall a Dame of the British Empire, the equivalent of a knighthood. Dr Goodall has received honorary doctorates from numerous universities, including: Utrecht University, Holland; Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich; Stirling University, Scotland; Providence University, Taiwan; University of Guelph and Ryerson University in Canada; Buffalo University, Tufts University and others.

Dr Jane Goodall’s Publications

Dr Goodall has written many books including two overviews of her work at Gombe—In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window; two autobiographies in letters; and books based on her spirit of hope, Reasons for Hope Hope for Animals and their World and Harvest for Hope. Her many children’s books include Grub: the Bush Baby, Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours and My Life with the Chimpanzees. The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior is recognized as the definitive work on chimpanzees and is the culmination of Jane Goodall’s scientific career. She has also been the subject of numerous television documentaries. Today, Dr Goodall spends much of her time lecturing, sharing her message of hope for the future and encouraging young people to make a difference in their world.