Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE is a groundbreaking conservationist, environmentalist, keynote speaker and UN Messenger of Peace. At 87 years young, the life achievement of this primatologist and anthropologist is both singular and far reaching.
Over a lifetime study lasting sixty years, Dr Goodall has transformed the understanding of chimpanzees, their human-like social and family interactions, their emotions and bonds, and their sometimes shocking behaviour.
Born in 1934, she was drawn to chimpanzees from an early age, when her father gave her a stuffed toy chimpanzee instead of the more traditional teddy bear. “Jubilee”, as he was called, remains Dr Goodall’s treasured companion to this day. She first came to Africa in 1957 to stay on a friend’s farm in Kenya, and within a few years her curiosity and determination to find out more about her favourite primates, saw her embark on her long and painstaking study.
Dr Goodall was just 26 when she entered the forests of Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park (accompanied then by her mother at the request of the park’s chief warden) to begin her journey into the world of chimpanzees, about which a lot was assumed but little actually known. Her findings would forever change our understanding of these creatures.
By immersing herself in their habitat, Dr Goodall discovered that chimpanzees had distinctive personalities, rational thoughts, experienced emotions and feelings like laughter, joy, sorrow, and close family bonds – and made use of tools. No longer was it possible to insist, as the saying then went, that “Man The Toolmaker” denoted a uniquely human characteristic.
She also found out that, contrary to widely-held opinion at the time, chimpanzees are not vegetarian (though she herself is) – and are capable of startling and sometimes fatal acts of aggressive violence which even sometimes extend to waging war between tribes.
Dr Goodall, who for 22 months became the only human ever to be accepted into chimpanzee society by becoming the lowest-ranked member of a troop, also came to understand the urgent need to conserve their habitat. Deforestation, poaching and trapping for use as pets or laboratory animals has shrunk their numbers to the extent that they are now on the Red List of threatened species.
In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute to support her work in the Gombe, whose core programme ‘Roots and Shoots’, started in 1991, is a global conservation and education programme with more than 4,500 groups in 70 countries. Dr Goodall’s pioneering research also paved the way for many more female scientists to enter a once male-dominated field of study.
Dr Jane’s unparalleled experience makes her a keynote speaker on the environment, sustainability and the circular economy, whose work and sparkling personality will give your audience an unforgettable as well as enlightening and challenging evening.
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