Humane education with Jane Goodall by Carol A. Connare

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1995:

In moments, she went from sipping
coffee with patrolmen to getting a surprise
audience with the top 100 captains of the Los
Angeles Police Department. Adrenaline
pumping, Dr. Jane Goodall thought fast. “I
said to myself, ‘I’ve got to get their attention,
or they won’t hear a thing I say.’” Deputy
Chief Kroeker introduced Goodall to the men.
She stood up and said, “If I were a female
chimpanzee and I walked into a room of
high-ranking male chimpanzees, it would be
foolish if I didn’t greet them with a submis-
sive pant-grunt,” which she proceeded to do.
All eyes looked up, the men lis-
tened intently to her ten-minute talk, and
Chief Willie Williams agreed to endorse her
educational program––Roots and Shoots––
and help introduce it to inner city kids.
As humans, we take superiority for
granted. But Goodall feels strongly, based
on years in the bush, doing zoological
research, that we are not as different from
other animals as many of us think.

The kind light in her eyes doesn’t
disguise her preference for being on the lush
slopes of Gombe National Park, Tanzania,
Africa, notebook in hand, recording chimp
behavior in their rapidly shrinking environs.
This is the English girl who earned her fare to
Africa by saving up waitress tips, and sailed
there on the Kenya Castle. This is the famed
researcher and Cambridge graduate who
accepts that reaching people with words and
pictures is a vital part of her mission––the
only hope of saving wild chimps in Africa,
including those at Gombe, now a 30-square-
mile island amid deforested, depleted hill-
sides and growing numbers of people.
So Dr. Jane Goodall has become a
globetrotter, carrying her slides from cocktail
party to podium. “I haven’t been in any one
place for more than three weeks at a time
since 1986,” she admits. “And even that is

only a couple of times a year.”
From classroom to boardroom,
Goodall raises support for programs managed
by the Jane Goodall Institute, of Ridgefield,
Connecticut. On a recent tour of New
England, Goodall addressed Phillips Exeter
Academy students and faculty in Exeter,
New Hampshire, expressing her belief that
the human animal can reverse the tide of
environmental destruction.
“My study of chimps has helped
bridge the perceived gap between man and
the animal kingdom,” said Goodall of what
led her to this nomadic life. “Watching them
is humbling. They are so like us.” So like
us, in fact, that we share more than 98% of
our genetic makeup with them. They are
more like us than they are like monkeys.
So like us, they are aggressive,
nurturing, psychotic, suffer early childhood
trauma, and can be taught sign language.
These and other discoveries have been the
direct result of Dr. Goodall’s research––the
longest unbroken field study of any animal
species. Currently her team at the Gombe
Stream Research Center is focusing on the
cultural traditions of three groups of chimps
living in the park, in addition to studying
rainforest ecology.
Fundraising and awareness-raising
keep Goodall away from the chimps most of
the time, but she manages regular visits. She
owns a home in Tanzania, and when there,
she almost always makes the trip to Gombe,
where her research center is staffed by 25

Tanzanians, a videographer, and sometimes
European and American Ph.D. students.
Ironically, one of the chimps she
loves so well is also a reason to stay away. A
rogue male, Frodo, has attacked Goodall
three times, each instance life-threatening
due to the steep pitch of the terrain. During
the last attack, she hit her head on a rock and
suffered bleeding. “Luckily small bushes
stopped me from dropping to my death,” said
Goodall. The other chimps sniffed her blood,
seemed confused, and emitted “hoo-hooing”
sounds. “There was nothing else for me to do
but brush myself off and get back to the
research center,” said Goodall. Frodo’s bul-
lying seems piqued specifically by her pres-
ence, so she tries to avoid him. “He is really
mean to me, and we don’t know why.”
On the road, Goodall’s soft voice,
direct manner, and worldwide reputation are
more of an asset to her causes than in Gombe,
but still she wants to be there.
“They are truly amazing beings,”
she says of the chimps, again and again.
Roots and Shoots
Goodall is thoughtful when asked
what has been her biggest discovery during a
life spent with the chimps. “The most impor-
tant thing I have learned,” she decides, “is
the effect of early childhood experience on
subsequent development.”
The role of children in changing the
world is the focus of Goodall’s most recent
effort. Children are the “roots and shoots” of
hope, inspiring the name of her program for
school-aged children. “Children are so ready
to fling their little selves into something,”
said Goodall, breaking into a knowing smile,
her voice rising slightly from its lecture-
weary tone. “Roots, because they move
underground and form a solid foundation,”
she explained. “Shoots, because they are

new and seemingly weak, but to reach light
they can break concrete and move boulders.”
The roots began to grow in
Goodall’s own home in Tanzania when she
hosted local students for a weekend in 1991.
They told Goodall they had learned about
poaching and animal smuggling in school,
but not much else. “When I asked if they
wanted learn more about animals,” remem-
bered Goodall, “they said ‘definitely yes.’”
Beginning without seed money,
relying solely on teacher and student enthusi-
asm, Roots and Shoots has spread to more
than 30 countries. It involves thousands of
children, from preschool to college age. It is
founded on the principals of stewardship.
Each participant must show concern for the
environment, non-human animals, and each
other. From this beginning, children and
adults design their own localized projects.
In Tanzania, activities include tree-
planting, clearing plastic refuse from beach-
es, and sponsoring wildlife art contests. In
America, students may help take care of ani-
mals in a shelter, or learn to recycle.
Goodall networks the program globally via a
newsletter, and with new funding, aims to
electronically connect children of different
cultures so that they may share their particu-
lar environmental concerns. Already, some
schools swap handmade books the students
publish about problems they have identified
and worked to solve.
The doctor described a sad state of
cultural and political difference when she
brought a group of Tanzanian students to the
Bronx Zoo. They toured the first-rate med-
ical facilities for the animals, which stood in
stark contrast to their country’s own poor
clinics for humans. “We talked about the
inequality of health care,” said Goodall.
“The children came to their own conclusion:
they didn’t hold any resentment for the ani-
mals, because they were in captivity.”
Continues Goodall, “Roots and
Shoots helps youngsters see that we need to
change the way we live to make a difference.
We are the problem and the solution.” She is
adamant in her philosophy that we can invent
a way out of our global illness by the same
brain power that got us here. “It is fine to

buy a piece of rainforest, but we can’t think
that is all we have to do,” Goodall warned
Phillips Exeter Academy students who were
able to purchase endangered plots of land for
Earth Day. “We must take care of all that is
wrong in our own back yards also.”
Goodall explained that some of the
money she raises supports chimp sanctuaries
run by the Institute in the Congo, Burundi,
Uganda, and Kenya. The sanctuaries are
staffed by locals, and serve as educational
centers for community members and visitors.
Goodall realized her girlhood
dreams of going to the “dark continent” of
Africa despite doubting aunts and nay-saying
attitudes. She remembers her mother’s words
that made the difference: “If you work hard
enough, take advantage of every opportunity,
and never give up, you will find a way.”
Thirty-four years later, Goodall is still living
by those words, learning new facts about
chimpanzees, and tackling new problems.
Her strong will in 1957 won her an
appointment with renowned anthropologist
and archaeologist Dr. Louis Leakey, which
led to Goodall’s work in Gombe. “He told
me I was someone he had been seeking for 10
years, a girl to whom animals were more
important than makeup, boyfriends, and par-
ties,” Goodall remembers.
Her priorities haven’t changed. she
dresses simply with her greying hair pulled
back, a few wild strands rebelling against the
tie. Her sweatshirt reads “Gombe 30,” with
the family names of all the chimps she’s stud-
ied hand-printed in colorful ink. Among her
many honors, she says, her favorite is that,
“I won the National Geographic Hubbard
Medal this year. What made it so special was
that my mother was able to be there.”
She recounts how she once held out

a nut to a chimp. Instead of taking it, he
knocked it away and held her hand gently for
a moment––a message of resonance.
“Not too long ago,” Goodall
recounts, “I walked into a laboratory that had
been totally changed. There were large areas
for the chimps to romp two by two, versus
the single small cages of a few years earlier.
The director told me that I had been his foe,
but by showing slides of his lab as an exam-
ple of what goes on, he was able to get the
funding to improve his facility.”
The lessons Goodall has learned
about herself come easier: “I have a tough
constitution and I have an amazing mother,”
she said. “I have been blessed with the feel-
ing that I have a mission.” To be sure,
Goodall takes her mission as seriously as her
research. To her, there is not a minute to
waste. “I need to use my energy while I have
it. I could die tomorrow.”
There is a picture of Goodall as a
young girl sitting in the sand, innocent and
loving, clutching her cherished chimp doll
Jubilee. It is this, her selfless embrace of
animals, an innate childhood instinct, that
she hopes to teach the rest of us to remember.
The Jane Goodall Institute is locat
ed at POB 599, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
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