Friday, August 11, 2006

I met Jane Goodall!

You cannot imagine my excitement when I heard that Jane Goodall was speaking at the ANU and that there was a special lunch afterwards for students to get to chat with her. She of course, is the famous primatologist who lived in the forests of Gombe National Park in Tanzania studying chimpanzees in the longest field study of any animal species in their natural surroundings.

She spoke about her studies and time in Gombe and how she has now decided to leave the forests that she loves so much to address the issues that are threatening those forests, namely human population and consumption. So she has started the Jane Goodall Institute with the mission of advancing the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things. She speaks 300 days out of the year.

Her talk was entitled Reason for Hope and in it she discussed the habitat destruction in Africa and elsewhere, the day to day struggles of humans in those areas that are causing such destruction, and the use of chimpanzees in medical testing. She discussed the nearly identical DNA structures of chimps and humans, and told stories about their personalities, emotions and lasting family relationships. Yet with our incredible similarities, we still make a distinction between them and us that legitimates our "use" of them.

Her reason for hope (and this is the part that I wanted to hear) lies in the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of a growing number of young people around the world who are finding out about the environmental and social problems and want to do something about it. For this reason she has started the Roots and Shoots program to get youth involved in service-learning projects that promote care and concern for animals, the environment, and the human community.

Her speech was positively inspiring and she kept a packed lecture theatre captivated for the hour. The lunch was a nice chance to ask questions though I didn't really get to spend any time with her. As you can imagine she is one popular woman and I merely had the chance to say hello, thank her for her work and have a friend snap a photo.


  1. Sounds like a terrific speach.

  2. I'm noticing a strange similarity. You look like you could be related. I think you must be destined for great things too!

  3. Oh my!!! What a special special thing to get to meet a living hero. Frame that photo now!
    I am glad that things are going so well. We miss you in Cleveland. Looking forward to you leading our city to a green future.
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