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Chimps R Us

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Frontiers profile: Jane Goodall 4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |


Photo of young Jane

  From the start, Goodall's findings shook the academic world.

AA: In addition to the bushmeat crisis (for more on this, see Chimps Under the Gun), you're trying to do something about the suffering of animals in laboratories. Is that a clear cut issue for you, or does that have some ambiguity?

JG: It's become totally clear cut to me now. I've always fought for better conditions in the labs, hoping that one day we would find alternatives to the use of any living animals. I think the worst things I've had to do is go into the labs where there are adult chimps in 5 ft. by 5 ft. barren steel prison cells for no crime. I've been pleading for better conditions, for bigger cages, for group living, which is perfectly possible. But I've never been able to argue with the medical people who've said, 'much as we love to see the end of animal experimentation, it never will be possible.' But there's a new book just out called Sacred Cows and Golden Geese, by Ray and Gene Greek. This book attacks the faulty science that is based on experimentation with beings who are like us physiologically, yes, but they're not the same. So far, everybody he's debated has lost the debate and he's a doctor. I can't do that, but I'm very happy that this book has appeared.

Photo of Jane at Gombe
Though busy with lecturing, Goodall often returns to Gombe.  

AA: What if we can, for instance, do an experiment that will eliminate the threat of AIDS for humans, isn't that worth it? How would you answer that?

JG: Well that's why I'm so thrilled with this book. This book has nothing to do with ethics as far as the animals are concerned. It's ethics to do with human health, how animal experimentation has not made these giant strides in the improvement of medical technology, techniques and cures. It's actually been holding us back. And we've been paying millions and millions of dollars into a faulty science that's harmed us and not helped us.

AA: You have dedicated yourself so thoroughly to making contact with another species, I would imagine, more than any other person. What kind of a different person are you because of your contact with them?

JG: Well, honestly, I don't think it's made that much difference, because I began that way. All my childhood was relating to animals and feeling I was part of the natural world - sitting up in a top of a tree so I could be near the birds and learning from my dog. Of course, the chimps immeasurably enriched this. So did the life in the forest, where you can feel really at one with the natural world. It's very spiritual as well as being very rewarding for the inquiring mind. To be able to come and share all this amazing information about these wonderful beings, and know that that has affected the way that many people relate to the animal kingdom, that's very satisfying. But I never feel I've gone far enough. There are always these pockets of resistance, the people who do think there's a sharp line between us and them. This is why I'm driven to go on and on and try and find ways of convincing these skeptics about what I know in my heart to be true.

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4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Photos: Jane Goodall Institute

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