As a fellow Brit, I am proud to call Jane Goodall my hero.
Jane Goodall was born in London, England in 1934. As a child she was given a lifelike chimpanzee toy named Jubilee by her father; her fondness for the toy started her early love of animals. Today, the toy still sits on her dresser in London.
A Lifelong Passion For Animals
Goodall had always been passionate about animals and Africa, which brought her to the farm of a friend in the Kenya highlands in 1957. From there, she obtained work as a secretary, and acting on her friend’s advice she telephoned Louis Leakey, a Kenyan archaeologist and paleontologist, who was looking for a chimpanzee researcher. He sent Goodall to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.
She returned to London in 1958, to study primate behavior, but In July 1960, at the age of 26, Goodall traveled from England to what is today Tanzania and bravely entered the little-known world of wild chimpanzees. She was equipped with nothing more than a notebook and a pair of binoculars. But with her unyielding patience and characteristic optimism, she won the trust of these initially shy creatures. She was accompanied by her mother whose presence was necessary to satisfy the requirements of David Anstey, chief warden, who was concerned for her safety.
Goodall Earned A PhD Without First Obtaining a BA or B.Sc
One of her most amazing feats: in 1962 Goodall returned to England. She had no degree, but went 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 there without first obtaining a BA or B.Sc.
Goodall has been married twice, first to a Dutch nobleman, wildlife photographer Baron Hugo van Lawick, with whom she had a son, Hugo Eric Louis, affectionately known as “Grub,” who was born in 1967. Her second marriage was to Derek Bryceson (a member of Tanzania’s parliament and the director of that country’s national parks), who died of cancer in October 1980. With his position in the Tanzanian government, Bryceson was able to protect Goodall’s research project and implement an embargo on tourism at Gombe.
Inspiring Action On Behalf Of Endangered Species
Goodall’s work today revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, particularly the chimpanzee, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment we all share.
The Jane Goodall Institute works to protect the famous chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, but recognizes this can’t be accomplished without a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of local people who are critical to chimpanzee survival. Likewise, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, which she started with a group of Tanzania students in 1991, is today the Institute’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program.
As a teacher in Burlingame, California, I am one of the leaders of the Roots & Shoots program at my school. Indeed, the program now goes from preschool to college, and has nearly 150,000 members in more than 120 countries. Pretty impressive!
Your Chance To Meet Jane Goodall!
Have you ever been inspired by Jane Goodall and the work that she’s done for 50 years? Now’s your chance to meet her and go backstage at Jane Goodall Live in Los Angeles. One person will win a trip for two to Los Angeles and backstage passes to meet Jane. Care2 will also be giving away tickets to neighborhood theaters across the U.S. for the one night Jane Goodall Live event. To register, visit www.care2.com/jane. (Only open to US residents).
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