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Jane Goodall

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Dr. Jane Goodall

           By: Sean Chen  

     Jane Morris Goodall(b. 3 April, 1934- Present) was born on April 3rd, 1934. She is a famous British primatologist, ethnologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She was well-known for her 45-year studying wild chimpanzees in Gombe.




     Jane Goodall was born on April 3rd, 1934, in London, England. Her father Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall was a businessman and her mother Margaret Myfanwe Joseph was a novelist. She enjoyed her childhood. When she was around three, Jubilee came to her life; it was a lifelike chimpanzee toy which was given by her father. Jubilee became her friend who she wanted to play with all the time and took everywhere. The toy aroused her early love of animals. She also loved her wonderful dog, Rusty, who she wrote about in her book, My Life with The Chimpanzees(1988).

     After reading the book The Story of Dr. Dolittle, about a doctor who could talk to animals, Goodall dreamed go to Africa someday and live among wild animals and write books about them.

      In the summer of 1952, Jane Goodall graduated from her high school and passed her Higher Examinations. However, her family could not afford to send her to a university, so she learned secretarial skills and in the spring of 1954, Goodall began clerical work at Oxford University. Two years later, her friend Clo Mange invited Goodall to her family’s farm in Kenya. In order to go on this voyage, Goodall had to quit her job in London, moved back home, and became a waitress and she worked hard to save money to pay for her boat fare by herself. After one year of hard work, on April 2, 1957, she finally arrived in Africa. 

     After arriving in Africa, her professional life gradually began. She obtained work as a secretary as soon as she arriving Africa. In order to continue her interest in animals, she telephoned a Kenya archaeologist and paleontologist named Louis Leakey. Leakey felt that learning more about chimpanzees and apes might help a lot understanding the behavior of early humans. He hired Jane Goodall as a secretary and sent her to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania to research chimps.

     Later, in 1958, he sent Goodall to London to study primate behavior with and primate anatomy. On July 14th, 1960, Goodall became the first of what would come to be called The Trimates (The Trimates, sometimes called Leakey's Angels, is a name given to three women — Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas — sent by anthropologist Louis Leakey to study primates in their natural environments. They studied chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans respectively). In her first studies, Goodall traveled up cliffs alone to observe chimps. From a high vantage point, she could observe chimpanzees with her binoculars, usually several hours went by before any sighting of them. The first time she tried to get closer to the chimpanzees, the chimpanzees just ran when she came into their sight. It was a full year before they trusted her enough to allow her within 100 yards. After two years of seeing her every day, chimpanzees showed no fear and often came to her in search of bananas. As she got to know the chimpanzees, she gave them names, for example, Jane Goodall called a chimp with white hair on his chin David Greybeard. The reason why she insisted to give chimpanzees names was because she thought that chimpanzees didn't have a brain capable of thinking. Although chimpanzees are one of the closest species of human beings, they are totally different from us. Humans have thoughts, have mind, have different emotions, such as despair, anger and fear, chimps do not, so she think they are also unique. And because of their uniqueness, they should have their own names.

     At the time, the scientists who studied animal behavior considered personal naming to be inappropriate. Striving for objectivity, the scientists would only tolerate giving the chimps numbers. Goodall lacked the university training that made her research on chimps informal, and many researchers consider her studies to be unprofessional. However, her methods helped determine that not only humans have individual personalities.

     Goodall had no degree, so in 1962, Leakey sent her to Cambridge University where she obtained a Ph.D degree in Ethology. She became only the eighth person to be allowed to study for a Ph.D without first obtaining a BA or B.S. Her thesis, completed in 1965, detailed her first five years of study at the Gombe Reserve.

     During the time in Africa, Goodall wrote her first book, My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees in 1969. That same year she married wildlife photographer Baron Hugo van Lawick. The couple had a son, Hugo Eric Louis born in 1967, and later divorced in 1974. The following year, she married Derek Bryceson, a member of Tanzania's parliament and the director of that country's national parks. With his position in the Tanzanian government, he was able to protect Goodall's research project and implement an embargo on tourism at Gombe. Sadly, he died of cancer in October 1980.


Contributions to STEM

      Although Goodall was learning a lot in her first four months at Gombe, her funding was just about to run out when she made two discoveries that brought attention to her work. The first discovery was that chimpanzees sometimes ate meat. David Greybeard taught Goodall something even more exciting. Not only could chimps use tools but also make them. Greybeard was observed fishing termites with a twig, and several other chimps imitated this trick. Goodall said, “It was hard for me to believe what I had seen. It had long been thought that we were the only creatures on earth that used and made tools. “Man the Toolmaker” is how we were defined. This ability set us apart, it was supposed, from the rest of the animal kingdom.” After knowing Goodall’s observation that chimpanzees made tools, Louis Leakey said: "Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans." This discovery would be one of Jane's most important led to her fame. 

     Another discovery was chimpanzee aggression. After 10 years of studying the chimps at Gombe, she heard about or witnessed attacks by chimps on chimps, some of which were fatal. Primarily, one group of chimps waged warfare against others who had broken away and formed their own group. This aggression shocked and horrified Goodall. It also surprised the scientific community, which generally believed that apart from human beings, members of mammalian species rarely fight to the death. And she found that chimps eat meat, because one day she saw a group of chimps chasing a monkey, killed it and ate it.

      Gombe was a meaningful place for Dr. Goodall. She had worked in Gombe since 1960, and work took most of her time, she even did not have much time with her family. During 45 years of research, she found humans are not the only species to use tools, chimps do, too. And she found something that people did not know before: chimps eat meat, she observed once that chimps chasing monkeys as a group for meat; furthermore, Goodall shocked us by discovering human emotion in chimps one is that they will hug each other to express joy and happiness after they haven’t seen each other for several weeks.

     Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for a young lady to spend several years living in a forest to study wild animals, Jane Goodall was the only woman who could spend 45 years living in a forest and studying chimpanzees. She published numerous articles and 5 major books, such as My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees (1969), Innocent Killers (1971), The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior (1986), Through a Window: 30 years observing the Gombe chimpanzees (1990), 40 Years At Gombe(2000)  and so on. And her vivid description brought the chimps to life, she wrote about animals and their surprisingly human behaviors in daily life.


Interesting Facts

  • One day, she spent about 5 hours hiding in a hen house trying to see how a hen laid an egg when she was around 4.
  • She loves chimp toys, the first chimp toy whose name is Jubilee, although it was worn out, is still in her armoire.
  • The chimp David Greybeard, he has a carving of himself in Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park because of Dr. Goodall.


Impact to 21st Century Culture and Society

Dr. Goodall’s success not only help scientists finding more about human diseases and searching for cures because chimps can be infected with uniquely human viruses, but also let thousands of teenagers know more about one of the closest species of humans and encourages even more people, especially women, to seek their dreams in STEM fields. 



Works Cited 

"Jane Goodall" online video clip, biography. The biography.com website.2014. Web. 23 April. 2014.  

“Jane Goodall biography ” The Biography Channel.2014. A+E Networks. 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.

“Study Corner- biography” The Jane Goodall Institute.StrataScale.4 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.

Shapiro, Michael. "Dr. Jane Goodall." Earth Island Journal. MasterFILE Elite. 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


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