Jane Goodall is a notable British primatologist who is often credited for her major efforts in the field of chimpanzee research and protection. Her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees in Tanzania uncovered a great deal of interesting information about chimpanzee society, culture, habits, and lifestyle, earning her a number of academic, scientific, and international honors. In 2003, Jane Goodall was made a Dame of the British Empire, the female equivalent of knighthood, by Queen Elizabeth II.
Goodall was born in 1934, and in her early years, she didn't have very much interest in animals. By the 1950s, this had changed, and she found herself working in Kenya alongside Louis Leaky, an anthropologist who has been credited with the discovery of the earliest known hominid remains. In 1964, Jane Goodall became Doctor Jane Goodall, with a degree from Cambridge, and she returned to Africa to study chimpanzees.
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In Tanzania, Goodall embarked on an ambitious research product to follow chimpanzees for an extended period of time, learning a great deal more than researchers who had previously only observed primate groups for short periods. She named her research subjects, and gradually grew very familiar with them. Goodall noted that chimpanzees made and used tools, used a variety of physical gestures to express affection and communicate, and made war, much like humans. By humanizing chimpanzees, she raised a number of questions about primate evolution and the dividing line between people and animals.
Some critics claim that Dr. Goodall became too intimate with her subjects, failing to maintain a proper scientific distance. Others argue that her work would not have been possible without a deep affection for her subjects. Goodall certainly established herself as a brave researcher, lingering in Tanzania even after other primate researchers were kidnapped and threatened, or even murdered, in the case of Dian Fossey.
In 1977, Dr. Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute, an organization which promotes protection for chimpanzees along with research on chimpanzee culture. She is a noted animal rights advocate, speaking out about the use of chimpanzees in research and entertainment, and she has also promoted conservation programs which raise orphaned chimpanzees and create nature preserves which allow animals to live in peace.
Jane Goodall's work has been published in numerous books and scientific publications, and she has traveled the world as a visiting professor and lecturer to promote the cause of chimpanzee conservation. As part of her conservation work with chimpanzees, she has also championed a number of environmental protection issues, especially in the tropics.