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Dame Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall 2015.jpg
Goodall in 2015
Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall

3 April 1934 (1934-04-03) (age 87)
Alma mater
Known for Study of chimpanzees, conservation, animal welfare
Hugo van Lawick
(m. 1964; div. 1974)

Derek Bryceson
(m. 1975; died 1980)
Children 1
Awards Kyoto Prize (1990)
Hubbard Medal (1995)
Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1997)
DBE (2004)
Scientific career
Thesis Behaviour of free-living chimpanzees (1966)
Doctoral advisor Robert Hinde
Influences Louis Leakey

Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE; born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall, (3 April 1934), formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is a British primatologist and anthropologist. Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her over 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she first went to Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania in 1960.

She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots programme, and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. She has served on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project since its founding in 1996.

In April 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace.

Time magazine named Goodall as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019.

Early years

Jane Goodall HK
Jane Goodall with toy chimpanzee at the University of Hong Kong in 1996

Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall was born in Hampstead, to Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall, a businessman, and Margaret Myfanwe Joseph, a novelist who wrote under the name Vanne Morris-Goodall.

As a child, as an alternative to a teddy bear her father gave Goodall a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee, and she has said her fondness for this figure started her early love of animals, commenting that “My mother’s friends were horrified by this toy, thinking it would frighten me and give me nightmares.” Today, Jubilee still sits on Goodall's dresser in London.

She went to Kenya and met Dr. Louis Leakey there. In 1958, Leakey sent Goodall to London to study primate behavior with two experts.

Leakey raised funds, and in 1960 Goodall went to Gombe Stream National Park, becoming the first of "Leakey's Angels". She was accompanied by her mother whose presence was necessary to satisfy the requirements of David Anstey, chief warden. He was concerned for their safety; Tanzania was "Tanganyika" at that time and a British protectorate.

Leakey arranged funding and in 1962 sent Goodall, who had no degree, to Cambridge University where she obtained a PhD degree in Ethology. Her thesis was completed in 1965, titled Behavior of the free-ranging Chimpanzee. It told of her first five years of study at the Gombe Reserve.


2006-12-09 Chipanzees D Bruyere
Young chimpanzees from Jane Goodall sanctuary of Tchimpounga (Congo Brazzaville)

Goodall is best known for her study of chimpanzee social and family life. She began studying the Kasakela chimpanzee community in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania in 1960.

Instead of numbering the chimpanzees she observed, she gave them names such as Fifi and David Greybeard, and observed them to have unique and individual personalities, an unconventional idea at the time. She found that, “It isn’t only human beings who have personality, who are capable of rational thought [and] emotions like joy and sorrow”.

She also observed behaviors such as hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and even tickling, what we consider 'human' actions. Goodall insists that these gestures are evidence of "the close, supportive, affectionate bonds that develop between family members and other individuals within a community, which can persist throughout a life span of more than 50 years". These findings suggest similarities between humans and chimpanzees can be seen in emotion, intelligence, and family and social relationships.

Goodall’s research at Gombe Stream challenged two long-standing beliefs of the day: that only humans could build and use tools, and that chimpanzees were vegetarians. While observing one chimpanzee feeding at a termite mound, she watched him repeatedly place stalks of grass into termite holes, then remove them from the hole covered with clinging termites, effectively “fishing” for termites.

2006-12-09 Chimpanzee Gregoire D Bruyere
Chimpanzee named "Gregoire" born in 1944 (Jane Goodall sanctuary of Tchimpounga in Congo Brazzaville)

"Man the Toolmaker" is a famous phrase in anthropology. In response to Jane's research, Louis Leakey wrote, "We must now redefine man, redefine tool, or accept chimpanzees as human!" Over the course of her study, Goodall found evidence of mental traits in chimpanzees such as reasoned thought, abstraction, generalization, symbolic representation, and even the concept of self. All these were thought to be uniquely human abilities.

In contrast to the peaceful and affectionate behaviors she observed, Goodall also found an aggressive side of chimp nature at Gombe Stream.

She says of this revelation, "During the first ten years of the study I had believed […] that the Gombe chimpanzees were, for the most part, rather nicer than human beings. […] Then suddenly we found that chimpanzees could be brutal—that they, like us, had a darker side to their nature". These findings revolutionized our knowledge of chimpanzee behaviour. They were further evidence of the social similarities between humans and chimpanzees.

Jane Goodall Institute

Jane Goodall at RS Hungary
Jane Goodall in 2009 with Hungarian Roots & Shoots group members

In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which supports the Gombe research, and she is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. With nineteen offices around the world, the JGI is widely recognised for community-centred conservation and development programs in Africa.

Its global youth program, Roots & Shoots began in 1991 when a group of 16 local teenagers met with Goodall on her back porch in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The organisation now has over 10,000 groups in over 100 countries.

Due to an overflow of handwritten notes, photographs, and data piling up at Jane's home in Dar es Salaam in the mid-1990s, the Jane Goodall Institute's Center for Primate Studies was created at the University of Minnesota to house and organise this data. Currently all of the original Jane Goodall archives reside there and have been digitised and analysed and placed in an online database.

Today, Goodall devotes virtually all of her time to speak on behalf of chimpanzees and the environment, travelling nearly 300 days a year. Goodall is also a board member for the world's largest chimpanzee sanctuary outside of Africa, Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida.


Goodall has been married twice. On 28 March 1964 she married a Dutch nobleman, wildlife photographer Baron Hugo van Lawick. The couple had a son, Hugo Eric Louis, affectionately known as "Grub," who was born in 1967. They divorced in 1974.

In 1975 she married Derek Bryceson. He was a member of Tanzania's parliament and director of national parks; he died in October 1980. With his position in the Tanzanian government as head of the country's national park system, Bryceson was able to protect Goodall's research project. He put an embargo on tourism at Gombe while he was alive.


In addition to the DBE, Jane received many honours from other countries:

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