Jane Goodall

by Ilona from Quakertown, New Jersey

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

My hero is Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall (Jane Goodall). She is my hero because she has done many wonderful things for the earth and for animals. I am writing about her because she is an inspiration to me. I think she is a hero because of her efforts to save chimpanzees. She also found something that she believed in and fought for it until she won. Jane Goodall is a leader of the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). She also has been a voice for the "humans" that can’t speak for themselves.

Jane Goodall with Jubilee the chimpanzee (
Jane Goodall with Jubilee the chimpanzee (

Growing up, Jane Goodall always loved animals. Besides spending a lot of time with the hens in the henhouse, Jane also spent a lot of time with her dog, Rusty. In the summer of 1942, Jane started a nature club with her sister and her friend. On Christmas Jane got the book Dr. Doolittle, and she has treasured it all her life. Even though Jane’s family was happy and content, the rest of the world was not. While she was growing up, World War II was going on so her farm was never at peace. This really affected Jane’s family because her father was in the army as an engineer. Since Jane’s father was an engineer, he had to travel all over the world, which meant that he was not very involved in his daughter’s life. After the war ended, Jane’s mother got divorced and Jane and her mother moved in with the rest of her family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins).

Ever since Jane got the book, Dr. Doolittle, she has wanted to explore the world and the top of her list was to see the wonderful continent of Africa. Well, in May of 1956, her friend invited her to go visit her family in Kenya. Jane was so thrilled! Jane quit her job to go to Bourmouth to be a waitress so she could pay for the fare home. Jane was 23 years old when she left. There she met Dr. Louis S.B. Leaky, a famous anthropologist and paleontologist. After they met, he offered Jane a job as a secretary. Together, they did many fun things together like digging up fossils with his wife, Mrs. Leaky. Louis noticed what a passion Jane had for chimpanzees, so he started funding a foundation for chimpanzees. After they had enough money, Jane (26 years old) went to South Africa to study more about chimpanzees. In the summer of 1960, Jane arrived on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanganyika (later to become Tanzania), East Africa. The British government (which controlled Tanganyika) insisted that Jane have a companion. It was unheard of for a woman to venture into the African forests alone. So Jane’s mother, Vanne, shared the adventure for a couple of months. At first the Gombe chimpanzees weren’t fond of Jane, but after a while they became very fond of her.

Jane with Mr. Leaky (
Jane with Mr. Leaky (

One day Jane Goodall saw something amazing, two chimpanzees building a tool for digging termites from a rock. "Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans," is what Mr. Leaky said after he heard about Jane’s important discovery. After a year of living with the chimpanzees, Jane Goodall noticed that almost all of them were vegetarians. After all of these discoveries, National Geographic sponsored Jane’s work, and sent someone over to document her life. This man who came to document Jane’s life was Hugo Van Lawick, who later fell in love with her. They got married and had one child, Hugo Eric Louis Van Lawick, born on March 4, 1967. Also in 1965, Jane and her husband started the Gombe Stream Research Centre, which meant graduate students and others could come and assist with the chimpanzee observations. Jane and Hugo nicknamed their child "Grub." While Grub was growing up Jane had to do a lot less work with the research center. As the research went on at Gombe, after a while people noticed that chimpanzees had a dark side just like humans. Jane and the other researchers were surprised when the chimpanzee, Passion, and her child, Pom, killed and ate several infant chimpanzees, ripping them from their mothers’ arms. They also noticed a period of conflict between different chimpanzee groups. Beginning early in 1974, members of the Kasakela group attacked and killed members of their same group until all the Kahama chimps were gone. The Gombe researchers call the event the "four-year war."

This is one of the books Jane Goodall wrote (
This is one of the books Jane Goodall wrote (

Although it looks like chimpanzees are mean, killing animals, they are also very kind, caring, and happy little animals. Jane has made many amazing observations of the big world that lies in front of us. She also has written many books such as Reason For Hope.

Jane Goodall is a hero to me because of all of the great things she has done. When I grow up I hope to be like Jane Goodall: kind to the earth and animals in it, and to always think, "What can I do for the world?" instead of, "What can the world do for me?" Jane said in one of her famous quotes, "The most important thing I can say to you -- yes, you who are now reading this -- is that you, as an individual, have a role to play and can make a difference. You get to choose: do you want to use your life to try to make the world a better place for humans and animals and the environment? Or not? It's all up to you.”

Page created on 3/1/2008 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/1/2008 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Jane Goodall Institute - This Website shows everything you need to know about Jane Goodall's life and accomplishments.
Jane Goodall's Life - All about Jane Goodall's life
Jane Goodall Biography - Biography of Jane Goodall

Related Books