Jane’s Story

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In 1960, Jane began her groundbreaking research at Gombe Stream, observing the behaviour of chimpanzees in their natural habitat. It was there that she discovered that chimpanzees fashion and use tools. This was an astonishing discovery because, until that moment, humans had been defined by that particular skill as “Man the Toolmaker”. Upon hearing about her amazing discovery, Dr. Leakey sent her a now-famous telegram: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as human.” History had been made.

“The chimpanzee study was - well, it's still going on, and I think it's taught us perhaps more than anything else to be a little humble; that we are, indeed, unique primates, we humans, but we're simply not as different from the rest of the animal kingdom as we used to think.”

Jane took an unconventional approach to her research, viewed each primate as an individual with a distinct personality, mind, and emotions, and gave names to the chimpanzees.However, the global scientific community at the time ridiculed her for being “unscientific”. Despite these dismissive attitudes, Jane persevered, graduating from Cambridge University with a Ph.D. in ethology, the study of animal behaviour.

Though she contributed significantly to the world of science as an academic, Jane gradually became more involved in conservation and activism, having seen the many and growing problems facing not just her beloved chimpanzees, but other wild animals, the environment, and the local communities at large. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) for wildlife research, conservation, and education.

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

Jane Goodall was born in England in 1934 and grew up with an insatiable curiosity for nature. In 1957, having worked as a waitress to pay for her ticket, Jane boarded a ship bound for present-day Tanzania where she worked for paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey at Olduvai Gorge, supporting him as he conducted his research. Before long, Dr. Leakey asked Jane to study chimpanzees as part of his work on the origins of humankind. Although she wasn’t a qualified scientist, he thought Jane’s enthusiasm, perseverance, and passion made her the perfect researcher. He was right.

“It is these undeniable qualities of human love and compassion and self-sacrifice that give me hope for the future. We are, indeed, often cruel and evil. Nobody can deny this. We gang up on each one another, we torture each other, with words as well as deeds, we fight, we kill. But we are also capable of the most noble, generous, and heroic behavior.”

Dr. Jane Goodall now travels more than 300 days a year, speaking to audiences around the world about threats to chimps and their habitat, as well as other environmental crises. On any given day, she could be on any continent, speaking to a group of students, meeting with government officials to discuss conservation issues, sitting before television cameras being interviewed, or meeting with donors to raise money for JGI.

Dr. Jane has a special connection to young people and makes it a point to prioritise reaching out to them. She hears, firsthand, the voices of young people across the world speaking of their hopes and their determination to make a better world, and she carries their message to audiences all over the world.

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”

This is Jane’s life today – sometimes exhausting, but always driven by purpose. Despite the hectic schedule, she is constantly pushing to conserve wildlife and empower people to do what they can for a better world.

We are dedicated to inspiring individual action.