April 3rd is a great day because it is Dr. Jane Goodall’s birthday! The famed British primatologist and anthropologist who has spent her life being a voice for animals is 84 years old today. Goodall is famous for spending ten years living alongside Africa’s wild chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park. By studying their behavior in depth, Goodall became the first and only human ever to be fully integrated into a chimpanzee troop. Goodall learned about human and chimpanzee similarities that helped change what it means to be human.
Thanks to Goodall, we have a modern understanding of primate behavior, as well as an understanding of how humans relate to animals. But, Goodall has inspired more than just an understanding of chimpanzees. As we wish her a happy birthday today, here are six awesome things she has done to make the world a kinder place!
1. Founded the Jane Goodall Institute
In 1997, Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute, a global leader in the conservation of wild animals. The Jane Goodall Institute works to conserve wild animal habitats, motivate local communities on the issue, as well as provide scholarships to young women to support their education efforts.
Despite her busy schedule, Jane keeps an active Twitter account, where she communicates with young people, answering questions from all over the world!
2. JANE Documentary by National Geographic
In the National Geographic documentary JANE, the film centers on hours of never before seen footage to tell the story of the fearless young woman early in her exploration work. The film focuses on her relationship with chimpanzees and how she forever altered the landscape of male-dominated science. The documentary was hailed as one of the best documentaries of 2017 and helped show a new generation of animal lovers the important work that started Goodall’s path.
3. Speaking Out for Lower Meat Consumption
If advocating for chimpanzees wasn’t enough, Goodall is also on the frontlines of the battle with climate change and global warming. At the 21st session of the conferences of the parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015, Goodall discussed the impacts of global warming on rainforest ecosystems and how saving these precious forests can actually help mitigate climate change.
And how is this related to meat consumption? Industrialized animal agriculture is one of the largest drivers of global deforestation. 2,000 trees are chopped down in the Amazon rainforest every 60 seconds to make room for agriculture. Scientists recently warned that the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, is quickly reaching a “point of no return.” According to the study, in the past 50 years, deforestation has impacted about 17 percent of its vegetation. By wiping out the remaining three percent, the rainforest would become totally unsalvagable.
”… In order to feed the billions and billions of cows and pigs and chickens … you have to admit huge areas of forest are cut down to grow grain to feed them. Intensive cattle grazing is turning forests to woodland, to scrubland. And food in one end, gas out both ends, that’s methane. And that’s an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It’s about 36 percent of all methane emissions come from this intensive farming,” said Goodall. Seems like she is definitely on board to #EatForThePlanet!
4. Called Out the NY Blood Center
In May of 2015, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) made headlines when they abandoned 66 chimpanzees in remote Liberia. After using the chimps as test subjects for 30 years, the NYBC decided their time and funds could be better suited elsewhere.
The NYBC stated that they have no obligation to care for the chimpanzees, despite official documents from 2005 stating otherwise. Jane Goodall penned an open letter to the NYBC urging them to take responsibility for the animals they rendered dependent on human care by breeding them and caring for them for the past 30 years.
5. Founded Roots and Shoots
Roots & Shoots was founded in 1991 and is the cornerstone of the Jane Goodall Institute’s mission to teach children about conservation efforts. The Roots & Shoots program teaches children the fundamentals of conservation, effectively empowering them to take the skills they have learned and start their own conservation projects in their communities.
The Roots & Shoots program has inspired hundreds of children to make a positive change in their community. It’s never too early to plant a seed that will one day lead to a life filled with a love of nature and understanding of the balance of the world we live in.
6. Called to End Invasive Research on Chimpanzees
In 2013, Goodall launched a public appeal, calling individuals to submit comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in an effort to end the institution’s use of chimpanzees for medical research. Over 3,000 members of the Jane Goodall Institute answered the call and tens of thousands of others associated with different organizations joined as well. Ultimately, these amazing efforts led to the official announcement that NIH would retire all but 50 of the chimps in their care to a federally-owned sanctuary and begin to develop research approaches that do not use chimps.
Carrying on the Mission
Goodall’s compassion for animals, humans, and the natural world has inspired millions of people across the world to stand up and do something. From speaking out for abused animals, planting a tree to help regrow a forest, or even talking to others about why we should respect all living things, Goodall has created a ripple effect of compassion that will be felt for many, many years to come.
Help spread the word and celebrate this icon by sharing this post! We can all be a little more like Jane Goodall in our every day lives, tell us how you’re following her lead in the comments below!
In-Text Image Source: The Jane Goodall Institute/Facebook
Lead Image Source: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr