Jane Goodall, born in 1934, British zoologist noted for her studies of chimpanzees in the wild. Her many contributions to scientific and popular literature, coupled with a number of films made about her work with chimpanzees, made Goodall a respected public figure. She further distinguished herself as a wildlife conservationist by introducing the general public to the endangered plight of wildlife.
|II||A PASSION FOR ANIMALS AND AFRICA|
Goodall was born in London, England. She became interested in animal life at a young age. By the age of ten she was determined to travel to Africa to work with animals.
In 1957, while in her 20s, Goodall traveled to Kenya where she soon became an assistant to British-Kenyan anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey. Goodall joined Leakey on a fossil-hunting expedition to Olduvai Gorge, a rich archaeological site in northern Tanzania. At Leakey’s encouragement, in 1960 Goodall set up a chimpanzee research camp at Gombe Stream Game Reserve in Tanzania, now a national park. For the next 40 years she studied the rarely observed lives of chimpanzees, recording previously unknown chimpanzee behaviors.
One of Goodall’s earliest discoveries at Gombe Stream was that chimpanzees make and use tools. Goodall observed chimpanzees preparing grass stems or twigs, inserting them into termite mounds, and removing the insects to eat. Scientists had formerly believed that only humans possessed the skills to make and use tools. She documented these early findings in her first book, In the Shadow of Man (1971), which described chimpanzees as mainly vegetarian, peaceful, and social animals.
As her study of chimpanzees continued, however, Goodall identified a number of unexpected behaviors in the social structure of chimpanzees. Goodall observed that when a group of chimpanzees divides into multiple groups, members of one group may attack and kill members of another group to gain dominance. In addition, she witnessed a number of occasions when a female chimpanzee killed and ate an infant chimpanzee. She also found that chimpanzees hunted small mammals, dispelling the belief that chimpanzees were primarily vegetarians. In her book Through a Window (1990), Goodall described these behaviors, portraying chimpanzees as periodically warlike and cannibalistic, not as the peaceful vegetarians that she described in her earlier work.
In addition to her study of chimpanzees, Goodall assisted her first husband, Dutch wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick, with a study of carnivores, including hyenas and jackals on Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain. They coauthored the book The Innocent Killers (1971). Goodall also contributed to the understanding of the reproductive behavior of baboons, which compete for food with chimpanzees.
|IV||CONSERVATION WORK AND AWARDS|
Goodall’s work brought her much public attention. She used her celebrity to campaign for the conservation of all animals in the wild. In 1977 she founded The Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation. She established chimpanzee sanctuaries for the care and rehabilitation of orphaned chimpanzees in African countries.
Goodall has toured extensively, speaking to groups of all ages about the need to respect and preserve Earth’s wild places. Her book The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love (2002), written with behavioral scientist Marc Bekoff, details steps that would help humans live without damaging animals and the natural world. Her many other publications include a two-volume autobiography: Africa in My Blood (2000) and Beyond Innocence (2001).
Goodall is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Order of the British Empire (2003), the Chicago Academy of Sciences' Honorary Environmental Leader Award (2003), and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (2004).