In this article, we will share some interesting information about Jane Goodall, one of the most important women of the 20th century. Before we jump into the interesting facts, let’s start with her background so you can understand everything better.
Who is Jane Goodall?
Jane Goodall is considered the most important expert on chimpanzees in the world. This primatologist was born to a middle-class family in Bournemouth, England, where she grew up. When she was 23, she traveled to Kenya and started to work with the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey.
She was sent to London to study primate behavior and primate anatomy with two recognized anthropologists. Two years later, Leaky sent her to Gombe, Tanzania, with the objective of studying the chimpanzees of the area. She went there with her mother and a cook. There, she started an investigation that was supposed to last six months, but that has continued for more than 50 years.
Interesting Facts about Jane Goodall
1. Jane Goodall developed her love for animals when she was a child.
On her first birthday, she received a stuffed chimpanzee from her father. Her love for the stuffed chimpanzee, called Jubilee, was one of the first signs of her love for animals. She also adored children books that were about animals and Africa, and she spent hours observing animals.
2. She is part of The Trimates.
The Trimates is the group of three women selected by Louis Leaky to observe and investigate primates in their natural habitats. Jane Goodall, the first one, was sent to Gombe to study chimpanzees in 1960. Seven years later, Leaky sent Dian Fossey to Rwanda, where she studied the behavior of gorillas. Lastly, in 1971, Biruté Galdikas was sent Borneo to start her studies of orangutans.
3. She obtained her Ph.D. degree without having a college degree.
Before working with Louis Leaky, Goodall was not able to afford higher education, so she had different temporary jobs such as a secretary and a filmmaker assistant. However, in 1962, Leaky got the necessary funds to send Goodall to Cambridge University. Without having a Bachelor’s degree, she wrote her thesis “Behaviour of free-living chimpanzees”, and got a Ph.D. degree in ethology (science of animal behaviors).
4. She did important discoveries during her observations in Gombe.
Goodall changed the way chimpanzees are seen by science. During her studies of the social life of chimpanzees, she discovered that they are able to make tools. Until then, it was believed that humans were the only creatures that could use and make tools. She also discovered that chimpanzees are not vegetarians. She observed that they eat termites and hunt smaller primates.
5. She has been criticized for her research methodology.
When she was at Gombe, the way she did research was very different from what other scientists did in those times. For example, she gave names to the chimpanzees instead of numbering them. According to other scientists, numbering animals prevented emotional attachment and guaranteed an objective perspective of the events.
Another aspect that was criticized was the usage of feeding stations. These were used to attract chimpanzees, but experts say that this interfered with the normal behavior of chimpanzees, and that it was the primary cause of the violent behavior she observed.
6. “Jane Goodall” is the name she got when she became a Baroness.
Although everybody knows her as Jane Goodall, her given name is Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall. In 1964, she married Baron Hugo van Lawick and became Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall.
7. She’s a prolific primatologist.
Since she started her studies in 1960, Goodall hasn’t stopped working. She has written 15 books about her works and has published 11 books for children. She has also participated in 20 films, most of them produced by National Geographic, Animal Planet, and the BBC.
Some of her books have been translated to 48 languages and have received awards, such as the “Outstanding Publication in Wildlife Ecology and Management”, given by the Wildlife Society (USA) to the book The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior (1986).
8. She has more than 40 honorary degrees from universities around the world.
Since 1975, she has received several honorary degrees from different universities around the globe. This includes universities in the U.S, the U.K, Canada, Germany, Scotland, Spain, Japan, Taiwan and many more!
9. She was accused of plagiarism in 2013.
This is a shocking fact about Jane Goodal. The publication of Seeds of hope, a book she wrote with Gail Hudson, was canceled because of plagiarism. It was discovered that the book had sections from different websites which were not credited. Goodall apologized, and the book was published after all its sources were properly credited.
10. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute.
In 1977, Goodall founded a non-profit organization that was named after her. It aims to make non-invasive studies about chimpanzees, educate about the protection of animals, and promote the conservation of animal species and the environment.
I hope that these facts about Jane Goodall have helped you to learn more about her. If you are interested in facts of other historical figures, visit historical figures page.