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We HonorDr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall

“Every individual counts.
Every individual has a role to play.
Every individual makes a difference.”

Why WE Honor Her


In the summer of 1960, a 26-year-old Englishwoman arrived at Lake Tanganyika, East Africa to study chimpanzees, an act so unorthodox at the time that British authorities required her mother accompany her as a companion. But before long, Jane Goodall struck out on her own to become a world leader and new voice in redefining the relationship between humans and animals.

Even as a small girl, Jane Goodall was fascinated by animals. When she was one year old, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee, in honor of a baby chimpanzee born at the London Zoo. Goodall named the chimpanzee Jubilee, carrying it with her everywhere, as she dreamed about being a female Dr. Doolittle.

In 1957, a school friend invited Goodall to her parents’ farm in Kenya.  Within months, she met anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey, who had been searching for someone to begin a study of chimpanzees. Goodall’s patience and persistence convinced him she was the right person.

At first, the chimps fled whenever they saw Goodall, but gradually the chimps allowed her close enough for her to get to know them individually and observe their everyday behavior. In the fall of 1960, she saw a chimpanzee strip leaves off twigs to fashion tools. Until then, scientists thought humans were the only species to make and use tools. This would be one of Goodall’s most important, although by no means only, discovery.

Jane Goodall is a tiny woman with a giant soul and even larger passion for her work. In her almost 50 years as a primatologist and more recently as an environmentalist, she has fought poachers, polluters and politicians. She has radically influenced her field of study and blazed a trail for other women who have followed in her footsteps, including Dian Fossey. Her research and writing have revolutionized scientific thinking about the evolution of humans.

The Gombe Stream Research Centre, which Dr. Goodall established in 1965, has become a training ground for students interested in studying primates. In 1977, Dr. Goodall, established the Jane Goodall Institute. The Institute supports the continuing research at Gombe and is a global leader in protecting chimpanzees and their habitats and for establishing conservation programs in Africa.

Roots & Shoots, Goodall’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program, has nearly 150,000 members in 110 countries. In 2002, Secretary General Kofi Annan named Dr. Goodall a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2004 she became a Dame of the British Empire, the female equivalent of a knighthood. Dr. Goodall received her Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1965, and she has been the recipient of numerous scientific and humanitarian awards from around the world.

Through her many books, particularly, In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window, people worldwide are on a first-name basis with the chimpanzees of Gombe. Goodall has also written many children’s books and a best-selling autobiography, Reason for Hope.

Her latest book, released in September of 2009, “Hope for Animals and Their World,” is a plea for us all to take responsibility in making choices that will better the world  for humans, animals and our environment, all of which she has always maintained are inter-connected. “If you would spend just a little bit of time learning about the consequences of the choices you make each day—what you buy, what you eat, what you wear, how you interact with people and animals— you would start consciously making choices that would be beneficial rather than harmful.”

This is a message Dr. Jane Goodall takes around the world 300 days a year, always reminding us that those choices all begin with each one of us.

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