Jane Goodall

From Academic Kids

Valerie Jane Morris Goodall, Ph.D., DBE (born April 3, 1934) is a British primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist, probably best-known for conducting a forty-year study of chimpanzee social and family life, as director of the Jane Goodall Institute in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

She received an honorary doctorate degree in science from Syracuse University on May 15, 2005.

Missing image
Jane Goodall


Goodall was born in London, England, the first child of Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall and the former Margaret Myfanwe "Vanne" Joseph. Her sister, Judy, was born in 1938. After the divorce of their parents, Jane and Judy moved with their mother to Bournemouth, England, where Vanne's mother and two sisters lived in a home

Goodall was interested in animals from her youth; this, coupled with her secretarial training prompted noted anthropologist Louis Leakey to hire Goodall as his secretary during her trip to Kenya in 1957 and 1958. It was through her association with Leakey that she began studying the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park (then known as Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve) in July, 1960.

Leakey also arranged for Goodall return to the United Kingdom, where she earned a doctorate in ethology from the University of Cambridge in 1964.

Goodall has been married twice: first, in 1964, to wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick; they divorced amicably in 1974. Their son, Hugo, known as 'Grub', was born in 1967. She then married Derek Bryceson, (a member of Tanzania’s parliament and the director of that country’s national parks) in the mid-1970s, until his death in 1980.

Far Side Controversy

One of Gary Larson's The Far Side cartoons shows two chimpanzees grooming. One finds a human hair on the other and inquires about "doing a little more 'research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?"

The Goodall Institute thought this was in bad taste, and had their lawyers draft a letter to Larson and his distribution syndicate, in which they described the cartoon as an "atrocity". They were stymied, however, by Goodall herself, who revealed that she found the cartoon amusing. Since then, all profits from sales of a shirt featuring this cartoon go to the Goodall Institute.

Goodall wrote a preface to The Far Side Gallery 5, detailing the "Jane Goodall Tramp" controversy, and also praising The Far Side for Larson's creative ideas, which often compare and contrast the behavior of humans and animals. Larson also described the controversy in detail in The PreHistory of the Far Side (p.167).

In 1988 Gary Larson visited Gombe National Park and was attacked by Frodo a chimp described by Goodall as a "bully". He (Larson) escaped with cuts and bruises.

Professional Accomplishments

Goodall was instrumental in the recognition of social learning, thinking, acting, and culture in wild chimpanzees, their differentiation from the bonobo, and the inclusion of both species along with the gorilla as Hominids.

One of Goodall's major contributions to the field of primatology was the discovery of tool use in chimpanzees. She discovered that some chimpanzees poke twigs into termite mounds. The termites would grab onto the stick with their mandibles and the chimpanzees would then just pull the stick out and eat the termites. Previously, only humans were thought to use tools.

Goodall also flouted traditional scientific method in her study of primates by naming the animals she studied, instead of assigning each a number, a nearly universal practice at the time.

Goodall is an advocate for environmental and humanitarian causes, having served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2002. She was named a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in a ceremony held in Buckingham Palace in 2004.

She has also appeared (cast as herself) in an episode of Nickelodeon's animated series The Wild Thornberrys entitled "The Trouble With Darwin". She's also a character in Irregular Webcomic!'s "Steve" theme.


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