Immerse yourself in Jane Goodall’s wondrous, chimpanzee-filled life
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No one knows chimpanzees like Jane Goodall.
Jane Goodall is 85 years old. The English researcher changed the entire field of primatology. This occurred over the past six decades. Goodall was among the first to study her subjects in the wild. She treated them as individuals. She showed they have distinct personalities. She showed they have surprising quirks. She found that chimps displayed a wide range of emotions. They engaged in longstanding relationships. They have startling spates of violence. They were tool users. They were meat-eaters. They were ticklish.
Goodall argued that chimpanzees were worthy of names. They were worthy of respect.
Goodall's work opened the world's eyes. It gave us insight into our closest great ape relatives. That lens has finally been reversed. This comes six decades after she began her first round of fieldwork. That was in Tanzania. This was in 1960.
There's an ongoing multimedia exhibition. It's at the National Geographic Museum. That's in Washington, D.C. It charts her life. It charts her career. Goodall is the world's top expert on chimpanzees. It's titled "Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall." The show invites patrons to journey alongside Goodall. It follows her earliest scientific explorations. It shows her current adventures.
Goodall's story is told through objects. These include childhood mementos. It includes field notes. It displays other personal effects. Her story begins early in childhood. Her first recorded encounter with a chimpanzee happened at age one. Her father gave her a gift. It was a stuffed toy primate. It was named Jubilee. Goodall kept the plush chimp. It was always close. This was true throughout her adult life. Today it is understandably worn. That's according to Erin Wayman. She was writing for Science News.
Goodall has a passion for nature. This is evident in the display. She had her favorite books. One was "Tarzan of the Apes." Another was "The Story of Doctor Dolittle." Goodall spent her free time doodling. This was when she was a bit older. She labeled careful drawings. They were of wild animals. She did this with her friends.
"Jane was always Jane," said Kathryn Keane. She is director of the National Geographic Museum. She shared this with the Washington Post's Stephanie Williams last month. "She was born with this incredible curiosity, incredible bravery and desire to explore the world that was so obvious, even at such an early age. It seemed predestined for her to do what she did."
The lines between Goodall's personal and professional passions for wildlife quickly blur. Her life hit a clear milestone. This was in 1960. It was her first research foray. It was into the Gombe Stream Game Reserve. It's located in what's now Tanzania. This was under a mentor. That mentor was Louis Leakey. He was a famous paleoanthropologist. The trip is remembered with a facsimile. It is of Goodall's campsite. It was a bare bones setup. A 3-D film immerses viewers. It shows some of her most impactful observations. These are on chimpanzee behavior. Patrons can also enjoy an interactive experience. This is at the "Chimp Chat" station. It invites users to mimic various primate vocalizations. This includes hoots. It includes hollers.
The show also hits more somber notes. Chimpanzee populations worldwide continue to dwindle. They face threats of poaching. They face habitat destruction. And they face disease. Researchers and conservationists are fighting to rescue them from the brink. This fight includes Goodall. The show suggests that the future of these animals is in our hands.
But the exhibition's star is reason enough not to lose hope. Goodall is sixty years into her career. She carries on. So does her inspiring work.
"At 85 years old, she still travels 300 days a year doing her advocacy and education work," Keane told Williams last year. "This exhibit is to really celebrate Jane. It just felt like the right time to do this."