Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

The nature enthusiast always knew she wanted to spend her life with animals. She made discoveries about chimpanzees that nobody else had and worked to protect their homes


Jane Goodall_L
Artwork by Angela Ho


Quick Facts

Profession: primatologist, anthropologist

Famous for: spending 45 years studying chimpanzees

Born: April 3, 1934

Married: Hugo van Lawick (1964-1974), Derek Bryceson (1975-1980)


"The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves"

Dolittle dreamer

Find words that mean: amazing, set off on, coastal, voyages

When Jane Goodall was one, she was given a toy chimpanzee called Jubilee. He was just the beginning of her life-long love of animals. At 75, she still has Jubilee in her home in London.

As a little girl, Goodall's favourite books were Tarzan - the story of a man who is raised by apes in the jungle - and Dr Dolittle - a story about a doctor who learned to talk to the animals and went on fantastic journeys. Goodall grew up with many pets and loved going out into the countryside, climbing trees and reading. Her dream was to one day embark on a fantastic journey of her own to Africa.

When Goodall was 22 and working as a secretary in London, a friend wrote to say that she was living in Kenya, in Africa, and invited her to visit. Goodall moved to the seaside town of Bournemouth to live with her mother, and started working as a waitress, so she could save some money. By the time she was 23, she had saved enough to buy a ticket for a ship to Africa.

In Africa

Find words that mean the opposite: perish, disorganised, carnivorous, tame

Goodall's ship arrived in Mombasa, a port in Kenya. She got a job as secretary to the famous archaeologist Louis S.B. Leakey, the director of the National Museum. Goodall joined Leakey on trips into the grasslands of Kenya. Seeing how methodical she was, Leakey asked Goodall to do a study on chimpanzees in what is now Tanzania. In those days, there was no tourist industry in Tanzania. It was dangerous for a young woman to be alone, so Goodall's mother came from England and joined her. For four months, they lived in a tent in the jungle. At night they could hear that howls of leopards and other wild animals. They both got malaria and had no medicine. They were probably lucky to survive.

Goodall started studying chimpanzees by simply sitting quietly near them and waiting for them to come to her. Leakey had taught her the importance of not showing fear around wild animals. The first chimp to come was an older male with grey hair on his face - she named him David Greybeard. As she got to know the chimps in his tribe, Goodall saw things nobody had recorded before. She saw chimps eating meat - they were thought to be vegetarian - and making simple tools and using them - previously it was only thought that humans made tools.

The dark side

Choose the right option

Goodall discovered many interesting new facts about chimpanzees. At first, she thought they were nicer than humans. But over time, she found out that they can be just as nasty to each other. The male monkeys would fight each other to be the leader of the , or the alpha male. Sometimes one monkey would end up dead. She even saw one mother chimpanzee and her daughter eating the babies of other chimpanzees.

She published her in National Geographic magazine in 1963. This made her famous, and more stories and television shows were to follow. Two years later, National Geographic provided for her to set up a research centre at Gombe Stream, where she had first started her research into the chimpanzees. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation. By the mid-1980s, Goodall realised she needed to do more than simply and learn about chimpanzees. At a conference in 1986, she heard experts talk about how the places that African wild animals lived were threatened. She decided to devote herself to saving the chimpanzees' . She became involved in environmental projects, including Roots & Shoots, which aims to educate young people about environmental issues.

She continues to be active, even at the age of 76, and has twice been appointed a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

True or false?

To test your memory, try answering without referring to the text. If you can't remember the details, read the piece again.

1 When Jane Goodall was a baby, she was given a toy chimpanzee.
2 Goodall worked as a waitress to save money to go to Tanzania.
3 Goodall discovered that chimpanzees are vegetarian.
4 Goodall discovered that chimpanzees are vegetarian.



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