Famed ape researcher Goodall expands environmental concerns
May 22, 2005
The Salt Lake Tribune
By Greg Lavine
It was surprising to hear such a series of sounds emerge from someone built like Jane Goodall, a slender woman with long, silver hair and a dignified British accent.
The legendary primate researcher on Friday night offered her Westminster College audience a Gombe chimpanzee greeting.
"Oooh-oooh-oooh-oooh, ahhh-ahhh-ahhh-ahhhh," came Goodall's call, which started quiet and slow and built to an explosive, frenzied finish. The packed auditorium applauded the researcher, who made a fund-raising appearance in Salt Lake City.
Before she began living with the chimpanzees of the Gombe National Park in the African nation of Tanzania, she came from a poor English family. Reading Tarzan novels, she plotted out her career path as an early teen.
"I would go to Africa, live with animals and write books," Goodall recalled.
At the time, most people laughed at her and said, "Jane, dream about something you can achieve," she recalled.
Goodall's mother was the only one to support her, and went on to spend four months in the jungles of Africa with her daughter.
During that time, Goodall was concerned that her plan to study animals might not be working. She labelled chimpanzees as conservative creatures when it comes to human interaction.
"They'd never seen a white ape before," Goodall quipped.
Eventually, the chimps became accustomed to her presence and began to reveal to Goodall the ground-breaking insights that blurred the lines of what it meant to be human. She saw them experience emotions, use tools and wage war - traits that were thought to be exclusive to people.
Those early revelations launched a 45-year career into primate behavior. Though she has gained fame for her work with chimpanzees, her efforts are now aimed at broader goals. Goodall's concerns have branched out to include environmental problems as well as human dilemmas, such as poverty and overpopulation.
In 1991, Goodall launched a program now known as Roots & Shoots, which has 8,000 groups in 91 countries. Youth in these groups are asked to help in three areas - community service, animal welfare and environmental preservation.
Goodall urged people of all ages to take action to help the environment or improve the lives of those in need.
"If we all do our bit, it's going to make such great changes," she said.
Cill Sparks, an audience member from Salt Lake City, said "she just brings a beautiful message of saving the planet and the environment."
Goodall's visit, during which Westminster College presented her with the President's Award for Exemplary Achievement, is to help raise money for the college to house the nation's fifth regional center for the Roots & Shoots program.