Jane Goodall got her first job in Africa assisting renowned
paleontologist Louis Leakey. Impressed with her knowledge
of animals, Leakey suggested Goodall study chimpanzees at
Tanzania's Gombe Stream Reserve. Once funding was arranged
in 1960, the 26-year-old untrained animal enthusiast set off
into the forest, and launched what would become the most comprehensive
and revealing study of chimps in the wild. Alan Alda caught
up with Goodall recently during one of many speaking tours.
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I get the impression you saw things as they really were instead
of through the prism of the stereotypes that were prevalent
at the time. Everybody said they didn't make tools, but you
saw them. What was the difference between what you did and
what other people had done?
I had this amazing teacher who taught me so much about
animal behavior, and that was my dog Rusty.
The first thing was that I had this love of animals, which
lots of kids have, and this wonderful mother who encouraged
me to follow my dream. All through my childhood, I had this
amazing teacher who taught me so much about animal behavior,
and that was my dog Rusty. He taught me that animals have
personalities, minds and feelings. So when I got to Cambridge,
I wasn't there because I wanted to be a scientist, I was there
because Louis Leakey felt I needed a Ph.D. and he was right.
But I didn't actually care about academia, and I knew they
were talking rubbish. I knew they were wrong, so what I did
at Cambridge was learn how to express what I knew in a way
that did not leave me open to be attacked.
learns to speak "chimp" from Jane Goodall.
remember writing something about one of the young chimps,
Fifi, a very special chimp. When her little brother was born,
other chimps would come to play with him and she would be
very angry and chase them away. I wrote that she was jealous.
My supervisor said, 'But you can't say that, you don't know
it.' I said, 'Well, I do.' He said, 'Well, this is how you
must write it: Fifi behaved
in such a way that had she been human, we would say she was
jealous.' And this is very clever, because nobody can dispute
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Jane Goodall Institute