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- Occupation: Anthropologist
- Born: April 3, 1934 in London, England
- Best known for: Studying chimpanzees in the wild
Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934 in London, England. Her father was a businessman and her mother an author. Growing up, Jane loved animals. She dreamt of someday going to Africa in order to see some of her favorite animals in the wild. She particularly liked chimpanzees. One of her favorite toys as a child was a toy chimpanzee which she loved to play with.
Going to Africa
Jane spent her late teens and early twenties saving money to go to Africa. She worked various jobs including as a secretary and a waitress. When she was twenty-three Jane finally had enough money to visit a friend who lived on a farm in Kenya.
Jane fell in love with Africa and decided to stay. She met British archaeologist Louis Leakey who offered her a job studying chimpanzees. Jane was so excited. She moved to the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania and began to observe the Chimpanzees.
When Jane began studying chimpanzees in 1960 she had no formal training or education. This may have actually helped her as she had her own unique way of observing and recording the chimp's actions and behaviors. Jane spent the next forty years of her life studying chimpanzees. She discovered many new and interesting things about the animals.
Naming the Animals
When Goodall first began studying chimpanzees she gave each chimp she observed a name. The standard scientific way of studying animals at the time was to assign each animal a number, but Jane was different. She gave the chimps unique names that reflected their appearance or personalities. For example, she named the chimpanzee which first approached her David Greybeard because he had a grey chin. Other names included Gigi, Mr. McGregor, Goliath, Flo, and Frodo.
Discoveries and Accomplishments
Jane learned a lot about chimpanzees and made some important discoveries:
- Tools - Jane observed a chimp using a piece of grass as a tool. The chimp would put the grass into a termite hole in order to catch termites to eat. She also saw chimps remove leaves from twigs in order to make a tool. This is first time that animals had been observed using and making tools. Prior to this it was thought that only humans used and made tools.
- Meat eaters - Jane also discovered that chimpanzees hunted for meat. They would actually hunt as packs, trap animals, and then kill them for food. Previously scientists thought that chimps only ate plants.
- Personalities - Jane observed many different personalities in the chimpanzee community. Some were kind, quiet, and generous while others were bullies and aggressive. She saw the chimps express emotions such as sadness, anger, and joy.
Jane wrote several articles and books about her experiences with chimpanzees including In the Shadow of Man, The Chimpanzees of Gombe, and 40 Years at Gombe. She has spent much of her later years protecting chimpanzees and preserving the habitats of animals throughout the world.
Jane won many awards for her environmental work including the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservations Prize, the Living Legacy Award, Disney's Eco Hero Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science.
There have been several documentaries made about Jane's work with chimpanzees including Among the Wild Chimpanzees, The Life and Legend of Jane Goodall, and Jane's Journey.
Interesting Facts about Jane Goodall
- There is a carving of the chimp David Greybeard on the Tree of Life at Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park. Next to it is a plaque in honor of Goodall.
- She established the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977.
- Jane took a break from Africa in 1962 to attend Cambridge University where she earned a Ph.D. degree.
- Chimpanzees communicate through sounds, calls, touch, body language, and facial expressions.
- Jane was married twice and had a son named Hugo.
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