Chimpanzees, along with the gorilla and orangutans, are members of the hominidae family, thus making them related to us. Thanks to her passion for animal rights Dr. Jane Goodall has been an avid supporter of animal rights and protection.
Born in 1934 in London, Jane Goodall flew to Tanzania to live amongst the chimpanzees. Her work bypassed the more traditional procedures of standing in the background to observe these animals and instead lived amongst them to learn their behaviors. In her early life animals fascinated her, observing birds and other native animals. She would spend her free time reading books on zoology and ethology. Her dream as a child was to travel to Africa and observe the exotic animals. While visiting a friend in Kenya, she as able to meet the anthropologist Louis Leaky; who hired her to be part of an anthropological dig. Leaky believed that chimpanzees were the “second smartest primate” and wanted to create a long-term study on their behavior. While he was trying to find the funds to support this study, Goodall returned to London. In July of 1960 Goodall returned to Africa with her mother and established a camp in Lake Tanganyika in the Gombe Stream Reserve. This study was a disappointment as Goodall was unable to get close enough to the chimpanzees before they would flee.
Time passed and she eventually found another group of chimpanzees to observe. She would wake up at the same time every morning at observe them near their feeding area in the area of the Kakaombe Stream valley. The chimpanzees were not threatened by her and shortly thereafter allowed her to move closer to them, about 30 feet from their feeding area. Given her newfound acceptance she established the “banana club”, a way for her to gain trust and understanding of the chimpanzee’s everyday behavior. She would live amongst them and eat their foods; soon gaining the trust of nearly 100 chimpanzees. Her doctoral thesis “ Behavior of the Free – Ranging Chimpanzee” documented her first five years of studying the chimpanzees in the Gombe reserve. In 1977 she established the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues her research in the Gombe and continues the effort of protecting the chimpanzees.
Goodall’s work has today has lead scientists to try and find other methods of scientific testing instead of the use of animals. She has also stood firmly against militant groups who poach and destroy the ecosystem of these animals. In response to her extensive work with animals Dr. Goodall has received many awards, including the Gold Medal of Conservation in 1974 from the San Diego Zoological Society, the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation prize in 1984, the Schweitzer Medal of the Animal Welfare Institute in 1987. More recently she received the Messenger of Peace by the United Nations in 2002 and a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II of England in 2003.
Dr. Goodall’s work has allowed us to understand these creatures more then we could have ever done if we just observed them from the background. Her unconventional methods has allowed for understanding of the hierarchy and social norms of the chimpanzees; and considering they are related to humans, we can use their behavior to understand ours; she has unequivocally changed our perception of these animals.
Jane Goodall Institute (n.d) Retrieved on 6 September 6, 2013 from: http://www.janegoodall.org/jane
OLPC Peru/ Arahuay. (n.d) Retrieved on 6 September 2013 from the OLPC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall
Jane Goodall’s Biography. (n.d) Pearson Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/janegoodall/jane-goodall-bio/
Weiss, A. (n.d) Jane Goodall. Retrieved from: http://www2.webster.edu/~woolflm/janegoodall.html