Jane Goodall

by Katelyn from DuBois

" My mission is to create a world where we can live in harmony with nature."
Jane Goodall and a chimpanzee. (www.wsu.edu)
Jane Goodall and a chimpanzee. (www.wsu.edu)

Imagine a love for animals so deep that you would sit in a hen house for five hours waiting for a chicken to lay an egg. This is exactly what Jane Goodall did as a young girl. Her fascination with animals led to an amazing, life long journey of understanding chimpanzees. My research on Jane Goodall in “Biography Today” explored her journey and the discoveries she made along the way.

Jane Goodall’s family may seem ordinary, but she was able to do extraordinary things. Jane was born in London, England on April 3, 1934. Her father, Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall, was an engineer as well as an amateur car racer. Her mother, Myfanwe Joseph Goodall, was a homemaker who also wrote novels under the name of Vanne Goodall. Jane had one sibling, a sister, named Judy. When Jane was eight years old, her parents divorced and she and her sister lived with their mother. In 1961, Jane met her first husband, Hugo van Lawick, when he came to Gombe to photograph her studying the chimpanzees. Hugo and Jane had one son, Hugo, who was nicknamed “Grub.” In 1974, Hugo van Lawick and Jane divorced. Jane married Derek Bryceson in 1975. Mr. Bryceson was a supervisor of Tanzania’s national parks and the only white member of Tanzania’s government.

Jane had unique educational experiences. She chose not to go to college after finishing high school. Instead, Jane enrolled in a secretarial training program. In 1965, years after she started to study the chimpanzees, Jane received her doctoral degree in ethnology from Cambridge University in England. Jane was one of only eight people in Cambridge’s history to obtain a doctoral degree without first receiving a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college.

This is Jane as a young girl. (www.time.com)
This is Jane as a young girl. (www.time.com)

After years of wanting to go to Africa to study chimpanzees, Jane finally accomplished this goal in 1957. Two important events occurred during her study of chimpanzees. One day, while the chimps were feeding on figs, they came within 20 yards of Jane. When they spotted her, they continued feeding instead of running away. During another interaction with a chimp, Jane was able to actually touch the animal as it ate nuts out of her palm and squeezed her hand. These events were definite highlights in Jane’s careers, as they helped her to form unique bonds with the chimps and allowed her to conduct groundbreaking and fascinating research.

More than half her life has been devoted to studying the chimpanzees of Gombe. Jane’s patience, extensive observations, and careful note taking helped her become a leading expert on chimpanzee life in the wild. Jane has won many awards for her contributions, including the Wilkie Brothers Foundation Grant, the Franklin Burr Prize, and the Bradford Washburn Award. She also won the Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize , the R.R. Hawkins award, and the National Geographic Centennial Award. Jane Goodall is my hero because she has been a strong advocate for better understanding and treatment of chimpanzees. Her work with the chimps has shown that people can interact with nature in a peaceful and meaningful way.

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