You think Jane Goodall and you might picture Tarzan’s sidekick. While they share a common name, this Jane is also somewhat the Queen of the Jungle. She has 55 years and counting under her belt regarding extensive animal conservation efforts –most specifically in the chimpanzee arena. When you look at Jane’s life, it is clear to see how she was destined for her role since childhood. We take great pride in seeing her accomplish so much in a field so specifically sacred to her. Here are 8 reasons Jane might just be Mother Nature’s favorite mother figure:
- She comes by it honest. Jane was not someone who had to “learn” how to be a mother to her beloved wildlife companions. It was something innately within her. Her love for animals was sparked by a toy chimpanzee her father gifted her. Today, that same toy still makes appearances with her. It has been reported that at 12-years-old, Jane established the nature-based “Alligator Club” where her members had to site 10 types of dogs, birds, and trees and at least 5 butterflies or moths before joining. The story continues that once she read the book “Dr. Doolittle” she “just knew” she had to get to Africa
- She lets life take the steering wheel. Jane knows when you follow your heart - you are doing just that…following. Jane let her heart guide her throughout her environmental journey. When a friend invited her to visit her family farm in Kenya, Jane waitressed to earn the boat fare and made the trip happen; resulting in her head over heels status for all things Africa. While there, she took her friend up on advice to contact a local scientist to discuss animals. The scientist just happened to have a secret desire to find a chimpanzee researcher to study their behavior. He ended up telling Jane about his ideas and hired her on as his secretary. The rest as they would say, is history.
- She puts it all out there. We all have personal beliefs that sometimes may feel too personal to share. The fear of ridicule or isolation is enough to keep some of our convictions (especially concerning controversial matters) to ourselves. But Jane doesn’t mind the scoffing. She has been quoted as expressing her belief, or at least desire to further implore the existence of Sasquatch, Yeti, or Big Foot. And when asked if she believed in God, Jane also tapped into her strength and revealed her truth saying, “I don't have any idea of who or what God is. But I do believe in some great spiritual power. I feel it particularly when I'm out in nature. It's just something that's bigger and stronger than what I am or what anybody is. I feel it. And it's enough for me."
- She’s persistent, patient and productive. When Jane first started studying chimpanzees, they would constantly run from her. Then it progressed to them being reasonable with her at a distance, and then ever so slowly they allowed her to walk amongst them. Because she exercised patience and persistence, she was able to build a bridge of trust with a different species.
- She’s ok with being unconventional. Jane has long since withstood criticism from some in the scientific community for how she has conducted her chimpanzee research. The primary argument being that she named her chimpanzee subjects instead of the traditional method of numbering research subjects. This protocol was put in place because researcher’s wanted to avoid bias in subjects due to emotional ties that could develop. Jane stands by the validity of her research despite the critics.
- She changes the game. Jane’s innovative research approach has led to groundbreaking and game changing discoveries. Through her studies she has found that chimpanzees and humans share more than gene similarities. They also express emotions (hugs, patting on the back, and tickling), possess similar intelligence (they know how to use tools to catch food- even non-vegetable foods) and conduct their social structures like humans (they have peer pressure and “gang violence”, too). This changes two long-standing beliefs: that only humans could construct and use tools, and that chimpanzees were vegetarians.
- She advocates for real change. Jane has founded and served as an ambassador for a plethora of environmental foundations. She constantly advocates, traveling up to 300 days per year, for various causes such as vegetarianism, the United Nations (as a two-time Messenger of Peace for the UN), and the Jane Goodall Institute that continues the research she started in an effort to further the protection of chimpanzees and their habitats.
- She laughs off the “little stuff”. Famed cartoonist, Gary Larson (think “The Far Side”) once did a cartoon of two chimpanzees grooming one another. One finds a blonde hair on the other and quips, “Conducting a little more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?” Jane’s team was furious and sent legal threats to Larson’s team immediately. When Jane herself learned of the cartoon, she laughed it off and had her team cease all action. The situation worked out in her favor with all proceeds from the sale of a shirt sporting the cartoon going to the Jane Goodall Institute. She even went on to write the foreword in one of Larson’s “Far Side” books. Larson even garnered his own interest in Jane’s work after his affairs with her and visited Africa!
Thank you Jane for loving nature and ALL creatures as your own child! May we all learn from your drive, curiosity and love of life.
(Information gathered from National Geographic & Wikipedia).
15] Jane Goodall's Questions & Answers, Readers Digest, p. 128, September 2010