Jane Goodall was born in London, England, in 1934.
As a child, she never liked school but she loved to read and, most of all, she loved animals.
After graduating high school, she had a chance to visit Africa in 1960 and her life changed forever.
On this trip, she met Louis Leakey. Even though Goodall had no training in zoology, Leakey was very impressed with her desire to study animals in the African wild.
He obtained funds for Goodall to study the behavior of chimpanzees, humans’ closest primate relative.
Goodall set up camp in Gombe National Park in Tanzania, but it took her several months to gain the chimps’ trust to enable her to observe their behavior.
Her findings surprised the scientific world. She found that chimps are not vegetarians as previously thought.
Even more surprisingly, she found that chimps make and use simple tools. For example, they will strip a twig and use it to dig out a meal of termites from a tree stump. They also use stones to break open nuts.
Although chimps are very social animals and display affection toward each other, Goodall also saw two chimp communities wage a violent war until one community was wiped out.
Chimpanzees are now an endangered species, and Goodall spends most of her time trying to save them from extinction.
The chimps’ natural habitats are being destroyed as humans clear forests for farmland. Mother chimps are killed by poachers so that baby chimps can be seized as pets or even for medical research.
In 1975, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation to help educate the public about the importance of the chimpanzees’ survival in the wild.
Chimpanzees communicate with body postures, facial expressions, and hand gestures. They greet other by embracing or by touching different parts of each other’s bodies.