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Hi my name is Jane Goodall. Iwas born on April 3, 1934, in London, England, into a middle-class British family. My father, Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall, was an engineer. My mother, Vanna (Joseph) Morris-Goodall, was a successful novelist. When I was about two years old her mother gave her a stuffed toy chimpanzee, which I still possess to this day. I was a good student, but had more interest in being outdoors and learning about animals. Once I spent five hours in a hen-house so she could see how a hen lays an egg. I loved animals so much that by the time she was ten or eleven she dreamed of living with animals in Africa. My mother encouraged me to realize my dream, which eventually became a reality.
When I was eighteen I completed secondary school and began working. I worked as a secretary, as an assistant editor in a film studio, and as a waitress, trying to save enough money to make my first trip to Africa.
I finally went to Africa when I was twenty-three years old. In 1957 I sailed to Mombassa on the east African coast, where I met anthropologist Louis Leakey (1903–1972), who would become my mentor, or teacher. In Africa, Leakey and his wife, Mary, had discovered what the oldest known human remains were then. These discoveries supported Leakey's claim that the origins of the human species were in Africa, not in Asia or Europe as many had believed.
Leakey hoped that studies of the primate species most closely related to human beings—chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans— should light on the behavior of the human animal's ancestors. He chose me for this work because he believed
That as a woman I would be more patient and careful than a male observer and that as someone with little formal training I would be more likely to describe what I saw rather than what I thought I should be seeing.
In July 1960, I was twenty –six-years-old I went out for the first time for Gombe National Park in southeastern Africa to begin a study of the chimpanzees that lived in the forests along the shores of Lake Tanganyika. I had little formal training; still, I brought to my work my love of animal sand a desire for adventure. I thought at the time that the study might take three years. I ended up staying for more than two decades.
The 1970s saw changes in my understanding of the chimpanzees and in the way in which research was carried out at Gombe. In 1974 what I referred to as a "war" broke out between two groups of chimpanzees. One group eventually killed many members of the other group. I also witnessed a series of acts of infanticide (the killing of an infant) on the part of one of the older female chimps. These appearances of the darker side of chimpanzee behavior forced me to adjust my interpretation of these animals as being basically gentle and peace loving.
Article posted March 30, 2011 at 11:55 AM •
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