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Berthold Stadler/AP

Jane Goodall, Anthropologist and Ethologist

December 07, 2010
by Kate Brack
Jane Goodall’s work as a primatologist laid the groundwork for how primates, namely chimpanzees, are studied. Goodall’s lack of formal training in the beginning of her career helped her to record what she experienced among the chimps on a truly organic level.

Brief Biography of Jane Goodall

Born on April 3, 1934 in London, England, Jane Goodall had an affinity for animals that started at a very young age. Her family was extremely supportive of her passion and her mother, Vanna Morris-Goodall, would later spend time with her in Africa studying and observing chimpanzees.

At 23, Goodall took her first trip to Africa and it was then that she met Kenyan Archaeologist Louis Leakey who would became her mentor. Goodall traveled back to Africa when she was 26 to observe chimpanzees and work with Leakey. A project that was projected to take three years ended up lasting more than two decades.

Resources for Studying Jane Goodall

Gale Research’s “Contemporary Heroes and Heroines” provides a detailed look at Goodall’s early life and how she began studying chimps.

The Academy of Achievement offers a biography and interview of Goodall.

“Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees,” an episode in PBS’ “Nature” series, provides an overview of Goodall’s life and her work at Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

Goodall gave presentations at the TED talks in 2002 and 2003, speaking about what makes humans and apes different and how we can co-exist.

Goodall’s Organizations

The Web site of the Jane Goodall Institute, founded by Goodall in 1977, provides a short biography of Goodall, explains the myriad ways she is helping chimpanzees, and gives you the opportunity to donate to Goodall’s programs or become a “guardian” of a chimp. There are JGIs based in 20 different countries, each with its own Web site.

Roots & Shoots is an international youth program of the JGI. The Web site explains the groups campaigns and includes a list of the thousands of youth chapters based in schools around the world.

The University of Minnesota’s JGI Center for Primate Studies offers a look inside Gombe, providing photos, video and information about the chimpanzees that live there and work being done to study and protect them.

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