Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall!
Here at the Lab we adore Jane Goodall. To us she represents everything that's right with humanity. Her tireless efforts to educate the public and impassion youth about the natural world has her traveling an average of 300 days a year to all corners of the globe. Her name has become synonymous with conservation, responsible land use and animal rights. She has been a voice of reason and compassion for 78 years and we're here to celebrate her accomplishments past, present and future.
In 1957 Jane Goodall traveled to Africa to pursue her interest in the continents mega fauna. Having no college degree, but being an amazing bad ass she took a job as a secretary on a farm and with a little insistence from a friend contacted eccentric paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey to discuss African wildlife. Leakey recognized the passion Goodall had and immediately offered her a job as his secretary, secretly putting in motion plans to use her as a primate researcher (Goodall became the first of "Leakey's Angels"). In 1958 he sent her to London to study primate behavior and anatomy and in 1960 Jane returned to Africa to begin a relationship with Gombe National Park that continues to this day.
By 1962 Jane had five years of experience with chimps, but no degree, making it difficult to publish her research. Leakey raised funds and sent her to Cambridge University to get her PhD in ethology, making her one of only a handful of people to study for a PhD without first receiving a BA or BS.
Jane's lack of formal education and loose oversight by Leakey meant she took a novel approach to primate research, something she is both criticized and commended for. She gave the chimps names instead of numbers and emphasized their personal traits. She observed never before seen behavior such as tool making, hunting and cannibalism. Because of her nearly constant contact with the chimps at Gombe she remains the only person ever to be accepted into chimpanzee society.
These days Jane Goodall can be seen lugging her imumerable honours, titles, and awards from country to country, giving talks, raising funds and drumming up support for Roots & Shoots. In her golden years she seems determined to fit three lifetimes of good deeds into each decade. Seriously, she's in the air so much you've only got a one in three chance of not sharing a flight with her (totally not a made up statistic). Is it any wonder we've featured her image in our paper doll series?
We really, truly love and admire Jane Goodall and look forward to many more years of inspiring do-gooding.