Dr. Jane Goodall has been one of the most significant influences in my life. She is credited with inspiring my love for animals at a very young age. I remember when I was a child, my favorite was her children’s book series that focused on baboons, elephants, giraffes, hyenas, lions, wildebeest, and of course, chimpanzees. I still have them in my library to this day.
She is known for her work as a primatologist. The focus of her work was studying chimpanzees in Tanzania which was funded by the famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey. Her research found that chimpanzees have complex and hierarchical social behavior, verbal communication, and could eat meat. She was the first individual to observe meat eating in chimpanzees as it was assumed that they were primarily herbivorous. Furthermore, the most famous finding was that chimpanzees are tool users. At that point in history, tool making was thought to be exclusively a human trait, to distinguish humans from animals. The finding was ground breaking and altered the perception of primates.
With her success, she established the Gombe Reserve in Gombe National Park for conservation and research of chimpanzees which is still in operation today. Currently, Dr. Goodall has focused less on research and more on conservation of chimpanzees and other endangered animals. She has successfully established her non-profit organization, the Jane Goodall Institute which runs grass-roots campaigns to aid in conservation as well as public awareness of animal rights.
I am always in awe of her work both past and present. This woman is a true hero and my respect for her only continues to grow. She is still a trailblazer at the age of 83! Happy Birthday Dr. Goodall! Thank you for inspiring the young biologist in me.
Biography.com Editors. (2016). Jane Goodall. Retrieved from: http://www.biography.com/people/jane-goodall-9542363
Goodall, J. (2010). Through a window: My thirty years with the chimpanzees of Gombe. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
National Geographic Society. Jane Goodall. Retrieved from: .http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/jane-goodall/
**If any information is incorrect or needs to be updated, please let me know! Science is about learning from mistakes, staying up to date and moving forward!**