Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE , formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologist. Seen as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 60-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she first encountered them.
Seen as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 60-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she first went to Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania in 1960, where she witnessed human-like behaviors amongst chimpanzees, including armed conflict. In April 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace. Goodall is an honorary member of the World Future Council.
Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall was born in 1934 in Hampstead, London, to businessman Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall (1907–2001) and Margaret Myfanwe Joseph (1906–2000), a novelist from
As a child, as an alternative to a teddy bear, Goodall’s father gave her a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee. Goodall has said her fondness for this figure started her early love of animals, commenting, “My mother’s friends were horrified by this toy, thinking it would frighten me and give me nightmares.” Today, Jubilee still sits on Goodall’s dresser in London.
Goodall had always been drawn to animals and Africa, which brought her to the farm of a friend in the Kenya highlands in 1957. From there, she obtained work as a secretary, and acting on her friend’s advice, she telephoned Louis Leakey, the Kenyan archaeologist and paleontologist, with no other thought than to make an appointment to discuss animals. Leakey, believing that the study of existing great apes could provide indications of the behavior of early hominids, was looking for a chimpanzee researcher, though he kept the idea to himself. Instead, he proposed that Goodall work for him as a secretary. After obtaining approval from his co-researcher and wife, British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey, Louis sent Goodall to Olduvai Gorge in Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania), where he laid out his plans.
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