Immerse yourself in Jane Goodall’s wondrous, chimpanzee-filled life
Assign to Google Classroom
No one knows chimpanzees like Jane Goodall.
The now 85-year-old English researcher has revolutionized 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 conscious, complex individuals. She showed they have distinct personalities and 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 and 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 to our closest great ape relatives. Now, that lens has finally been reversed. This comes six decades after she began her first round of fieldwork. That was in Tanzania in 1960.
There's an ongoing multimedia exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. It charts the life and career of the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. It's titled "Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall." The show invites patrons to journey alongside Goodall. It takes visitors on a journey. It follows her earliest scientific explorations to her current adventures.
Goodall's story is told through a collection of childhood mementos and 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 gifted her with a stuffed toy primate named Jubilee. Goodall kept the plush chimp close throughout her adult life. More than eight decades later, it is understandably worn. That's according to Erin Wayman writing for Science News.
Also evident in the display is Goodall's passion for nature. She had her favorite books. These included "Tarzan of the Apes" and "The Story of Doctor Dolittle." Goodall spent her free time doodling when she was a bit older. She anatomically labeled careful drawings of wild animals 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 in 1960. It was her first research foray into the Gombe Stream Game Reserve. It's located in what's now Tanzania. This was under the mentorship of famed paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. This trip is immortalized by a facsimile of Goodall's campsite. It was a bare bones setup. A 3-D film immerses viewers in some of her most impactful observations 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, hollers and all.
The show also hits more somber notes. Chimpanzee populations worldwide continue to dwindle. This is under the combined threats of poaching, habitat destruction and 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. Sixty years into her career, Goodall and her inspiring work carry on.
"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."