Jane Goodall: Five Defining Moments in Her Life

Jane Goodall just celebrated her 80th birthday (April 3, 2014).  In February, I was a spectator/participant at a pre-birthday party for her on a small island in Lake Victory (located just off the coast of Uganda).  I got to sing Happy Birthday to the grande dame of primatology.

Dr. Jane Goodall Cutting Her Birthday Cake

Dr. Jane Goodall Cutting Her Birthday Cake

Mary Schriver recently had Goodall share her defining moments:  experiences which influenced her, challenged her, and summoned her to a life-long interest and respect for chimpanzees.  According to Goodall:

  • At the end of WWII, I saw a photo of emaciated holocaust survivors and another showing a pile of dead bodies.  Seeing those images forever changed my understanding of human nature.
  • In 1956, I received an invite to go for a visit to a friend’s parent’s newly acquired farm in Kenya.  That is where I heard and met Louis Leakey.  It was Louis who first suggested that I should go and study chimpanzees.
  • In 1960, I realized chimpanzees were using and making tools to fish for termites.  At the time, it was believed that only humans used and made tools.
  • Following the divorce from my first husband, I remember going to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in G Minor filled the ancient space with glorious sound just as the sun lit up the great rose window.  In that moment, I realized that chance could not be responsible for it all.
  • I’ll never forget how I felt after the conference “Understanding Chimpanzees” in Chicago in 1986.  During the proceedings, I was utterly shocked to realize how chimpanzee numbers and African forests were declining.  I was sickened by the secretly filmed video of chimpanzees in medical research laboratories.

For more information click here.

This entry was posted in Environment, great apes, Science, Social Justice, Travel, uganda. Bookmark the permalink.

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