Dr. Jane Goodall
Inspires Today’s Internet Generation
with Lessons for Hope
By Mary Paris
In l960 Jane Goodall arrived for the first time at Gombe’s national park on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. She had been chosen by the late paleontologist and anthropologist, Louis Leakey, to study the behavior of the chimpanzees who lived there. At that time, it was unheard of for a young woman to venture out alone into the wilderness to learn about animals, and initially the authorities (of what was then Tanganyika, a British Protectorate), refused permission. Eventually they agreed, provided Jane was accompanied by someone. It was her remarkable mother, Vanne Goodall, who agreed to join her.
Theirs was a small expedition: Jane, her mother, their African cook, Dominic, with a former army tent and a minimum of other equipment. Dominic was horrified that two English ladies were expected to eat off tin plates and cheap cutlery. He had worked in the houses of civil servants, and was accustomed to a better style of living. But it was all they could afford.
It was her childhood dream to go to Africa, live with the animals, and write books about them. At age 11, she had read the books about Tarzan, fallen in love with him — and been very, very jealous of his Jane! Anyway, the suggestion that she should go and live with chimpanzees had exceeded her wildest expectations, and she certainly did not care about tableware!
Every morning Jane climbed the forested hills that rose steeply from the lake shore. She had her binoculars (also second-hand and not very powerful) and a pencil and notebook. For the first few weeks she was compelled to travel with an African guide. But the chimpanzees were so shy, running off as soon as they saw the two humans, Jane soon decided she would get better results if she were on her own. Reluctantly, the authorities agreed.
But even when Jane was alone, the chimpanzees, who had never seen a “white ape” before, were reluctant to allow her to observe them at close quarters, and her early observations were made from a hilltop vantage point that overlooked two valleys. From this peak (which became “The Peak” and is known today as “Jane’s Peak”), Jane observed many behaviors which were to surprise the scientific community.
Vanne stayed with Jane at Gombe four months, after which the authorities decided that she would be safe enough on her own. Jane stubbornly persevered in her daytime observations and finally was rewarded with her first really exciting discovery observation — a chimpanzee using and making a simple tool. Jane has never forgotten that day.
Peering through vegetation, she saw a dark shape hunched over a termite mound. She realized it was the male chimpanzee whom she had named David Greybeard. She watched as he picked up a piece of grass and pushed it carefully into a tunnel in the mound. He withdrew it covered with termites clinging on with their mandibles, and he picked them off. Crunch, crunch. Delicious!
Jane was even more thrilled, however, to watch as he broke off a leafy twig and stripped it of leaves to use for fishing out termites. This was an example of toolmaking! Until that time it was thought that humans — and only humans — used and made tools. Jane had witnessed and observed something that would completely change scientific understanding rules. She sent a telegram to Louis Leakey. “Aha!” he is reported to have said. “Now we must redefine man, redefine tool — or accept chimpanzees as humans.”
These new observations allowed Louis to approach the National Geographic Society in America, and they agreed to fund Jane’s work after the initial six months’ funding ran out. And so the study continued. Today it stands as one of the longest consecutive continuing studies of any group of wild animals anywhere in the world. As the months became years, Jane was able to build a team of students and field staff to help with the collection of data, and our understanding of chimpanzees and their behavior increased.
After Jane had been in the field for a year, Louis wrote to tell her that he had secured a place for her at Cambridge University. He explained she needed a degree so she could hold her own in the world of science. But, there was no time to “mess about with a BA.” She would have to go for a PhD!
Jane hated leaving Gombe, but knew it was only temporary, and was excited when she arrived at the university. She was certainly not prepared for the reception she received. This young woman, whose observations had completely revolutionized accepted scientific principles of the day, was told she had gone about her study in absolutely the wrong way.
First, she was told she should have given the chimps numbers rather than names. That would have been more scientific. Jane arrived at the university filled with stories about the vivid personalities she was getting to know: David Greybeard and his companions — Goliath, Mike, Flo and her family, timid Olly and all the rest. But she was told that only human beings had personalities. Nor could she talk about chimpanzees having minds capable of thought, for this too was uniquely human.
And her worst sin was to talk about emotions she observed in the chimpanzees that seemed to be so like the human emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, despair, anger and so on. Ascribing human emotions and other characteristics to non-human animals is called anthropomorphism and was considered a scientific transgression.
“Looking back,” Jane now says, “it seems strange that I did not give in to the pressure to conform. But Louis Leakey had chosen me for the job knowing I had no university training. He believed this would be an advantage, for I would not be biased by the reductionist thinking of the ethologists of the early 60’s. Moreover, when I got to Cambridge I was already 27 years old. I had not begun my study with any desire to become a scientist. I had agreed to work for a degree to please Louis, and because it would be useful.”
Although Jane stuck out for defending her beliefs when confronted by the erudite professors at Cambridge, she also learned how to express herself in ways that would protect her from criticism attacks by other scientists, and she enjoyed the discipline. She earned a PhD. in ethology in 1965, and in 1967 the Gombe Stream Research Centre was formally launched.
The Gombe research has borne out that chimpanzees are like humans in so many ways. They can live for more than 60 years in captivity, although they seldom live longer than 45 to 50 years in the wild. They have a long period of dependency on the mother. Chimpanzee society is complex with chimpanzees living and interacting in communities of 50 or so individuals, all of whom know each other and may interact peacefully together. But for the most part they travel in small, constantly changing groups. Sometimes they spend hours or days alone.
And just as human beings are capable of brutality, so are chimpanzees. One of the more distressing accounts of chimpanzee aggression at Gombe involved Pom and daughter Passion. They went on a killing spree, snatching at least five infants from their mothers and eating them. These cannibalistic attacks ended when Passion and Pom gave birth themselves.
In addition to cannibalism, chimpanzees are known to practice a sort of primitive warfare. At Gombe, from 1974 through 1977, chimpanzees from one community systematically annihilated chimpanzees from a smaller splinter group, in brutal attacks that lasted between 10 and 20 minutes. In some cases, The victims were individuals that their attackers formerly had groomed, played with, and fed alongside.
That chimpanzees and humans display similar behaviors and traits should not be surprising. After all, chimpanzees differ from humans in the structure of their DNA by only just over one percent. And the anatomy of the chimpanzee brain is more like that of the human brain than any other living creatures, except the other great apes.
The biggest difference between humans and chimpanzees, in Jane’s view, is that humans are the only creatures who have developed a sophisticated spoken language. Chimpanzees cannot, so far as we know, tell each other about things that happened in the distant past, make plans for anything other than the immediate future, or teach each other about things that are not present. They cannot discuss an idea as humans do — each member of a group contributing his or her perspective so the original idea may be changed dramatically.
“Humans’ sophisticated spoken language, our hugely developed intellect, has given us the power to dominate other animal species and bend nature to our will,” Jane has observed. “Yet we are not using our gifts wisely. We are destroying our planet, and many animals including chimpanzees are facing extinction.”
Gombe Work Now Inspiring New Generations to Make the World a Better Place
Even as the scientific study of chimpanzees continues at the Gombe Stream Research Centre, Jane Goodall’s legacy is felt far beyond the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Through the “magic” of the Internet, a new generation is learning about the young English woman who lived among and learned from our closest relatives.
With the help of a remarkable new web-based high school curriculum — Lessons for Hope (www.lessonsforhope.org), these young learners are gleaning important life lessons from notes and journals Jane wrote more than 40 years ago by candlelight in a tent in the forests of Tanzania.
The Lessons for Hope website was launched in 2003 by the Jane Goodall Institute’s worldwide environmental and humanitarian global youth program, Roots & Shoots. The website is full of creative activities designed to help high school students set meaningful personal life goals and make positive changes in their communities.
Lessons for Hope uses Jane’s extraordinary life as a model, asking students to examine the sources of her optimism and hope for the future. As students explore the ways in which Dr. Goodall has achieved success and faced challenges throughout 40-plus years of researching chimpanzees and promoting care and concern for all living beings, they examine their own lives, including their hopes and dreams. The program also asks students to learn about problems in their communities and to develop solutions.
The Lessons for Hope website offers a wealth of fascinating material. In “Dr. Jane’s Scrapbook,” web users will find a wealth of fascinating material: historic photos from Jane’s life before, during, and after her years studying the chimpanzees full-time in Tanzania, samples of her field notes, and video and audio segments featuring her reminiscences and other highlights. The “Students’ Journal” features twelve segments tied to lessons for Dr. Jane’s life, incorporating themes such as Mentors, Compassion, Resilience, and Celebration.
The twelve Lessons For Hope distilled from Dr. Goodall’s life are applicable to everyone. Although the project was designed to be taught at the high school level, the four LFH units are filled with practical ideas that middle school teachers can also incorporate into their lesson plans for real world, project-based learning.
In the first unit, students learn how to nurture a support system, identify their hopes and dreams, and work with mentors. The second unit teaches students how to use their powers of observation, conduct their own projects, and explore their aptitudes on the way to developing expertise. The third unit helps students learn about their own communities, explore the meaning of compassion, and design and implement a community project. The final unit features reflections and projects on resilience, perseverance and celebration.
To learn more about this exciting program, please visit www.lessonsforhope.org To learn more about the Jane Goodall Institute and its global youth program, Roots & Shoots, please visit www.janegoodall.org
RETURNS TO L.A.
Headlining April 3 Festival
By Traude Gomez
Renowned primatologist, conservationist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall, will celebrate her birthday on Saturday, April 3, as guest speaker at a “Roots & Shoots” environmental festival at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
The day-long event is designed to increase young people’s awareness of their role as the Earth’s caretakers. At the same time, it celebrates lifelong achievements of one of the world’s most outspoken environmental activists.
The festival takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an open-air talk by Goodall at 2:00 on the lawn of the Australian Garden. Seating is festival style; no tickets required. The talk and all festival activities are included with Huntington admission.
Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute’s international environmental and humanitarian program for young people. Member groups totaling more than 6,000 include schools, service clubs, youth groups, and community organizations in more than 80 countries. California now has more than 400 member groups, the most of any state.
The festival will provide local Roots & Shoots groups with an opportunity to exhibit their environmental projects to Goodall and the community, to be acknowledged for their active participation, and in turn to inspire others to pursue environmental causes.
“The Huntington’s commitment to education and conservation makes this the perfect setting for Dr. Goodall’s visit and a Roots & Shoots gathering,” says Michael Fritzen, The Huntington’s youth and public programs coordinator.
The 150-acre botanical gardens not only help preserve many endangered plant species, but also serve as a training ground for the caretakers of tomorrow through educational programs that introduce young people to the wonders of the natural world.
This is Goodall’s second visit to The Huntington — the first in 2001, drew a crowd numbering in the thousands.
Throughout the day, visitors to The Huntington will have the opportunity to enjoy multi-cultural dance and music, from Taiko drumming to the didgeridoo, an international children’s art exhibit, student environmental pro-jects, craft activities, story-telling, and live animal presentations.
Local conservation groups such as the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the Los Angeles Zoo, and Wildlife on Wheels will be on hand with exhibits and activities.
Visitor Information: Hours: Tuesday through Friday 12 noon – 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Admission: $12.50 adults, $10 seniors, $8.50 students (ages 12-18), $5 youth (ages 5-11), free for children under 5. Members are admitted free. The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd. in San Marino, CA. For more information, call (626) 405-2100, or visit us at www.huntington.org
The Peace Wall
By Randy Taran and Willow Zarlow
Peace is for everyone. Since the beginning of time, people of wisdom have been reminding us of our birthright — the dream of peace. In Washington, a War Memorial stands as a testament to the pain of war. It is time for our society to be enlivened by its counterpart — a Wall of Peace.
The Peace Wall is a series of huge canvases, each with its own spiritually-significant mural backdrop. Layered on it are messages of peace from ancient times to modern-day heroes like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the Dalai Lama. They remind us of our connection with something greater, the preciousness of life and our own humanity.
We are honored to have Dr. Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, bless this wall with her own words of wisdom. By her participation, she is one of the many leaders who believes in the importance of this peace tool which allows people to react in a positive way and have a voice.
The Peace Wall also acts as a platform to empower people: children and adults, to know the modern wisdom inherent in us all. Like bricks of hope that together create a strong foundation for peace, the thoughts of people everywhere serve to build the Peace Wall. (E-mails from international participants, especially in war-torn countries, are also welcome.)
The Peace Wall knows no boundaries. It will travel to Peace Conferences, schools and the UN International Environment Day, and be available on the Dalai Lama Foundation website. As a living tableau, together with a film, the Peace Wall reflects back our collective ideas, passions and murmurs of the heart. Peace is for everyone.
* * *
His Holiness The Dalai Lama, when asked why he didn’t counter the Chinese with violence, answered: “War is obsolete, you know. Of course, the mind could rationalize fighting back, but the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside of you.”
Martin Luther King: “We are all tied into a single garment of destiny — whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Any person’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”
Chief Seattle: “We are all connected — what affects one affects all in the web of life called earth.
For more information on a Peace Wall in your own community, or if you want to volunteer to help, e-mail randy@spring2U.com , or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Return to the March/April Index page