Jane Goodall

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Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.

Jane Goodall DBE (born 3 April 1934) is an English UN Messenger of Peace, primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist. She is best-known for her study of chimpanzee social and family life in Gombe Stream National Park for 45 years, and for founding the Jane Goodall Institute.


  • Just remember — if you are really and truly determined to work with animals, somehow, either now or later, you will find a way to do it. But you have to want it desperately, work hard, take advantage of an opportunity — and never give up.
    • My Life with the Chimpanzees (1996), p. 113.
  • In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.
    • "Chimpanzees - Bridging the Gap", in Paola Cavalieri, Peter Singer, The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity (1996), p. 14.
  • Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.
    • Reported in Patti Denys, Mary Holmes, Animal Magnetism: At Home With Celebrities & Their Animal Companions (1998), p. 106.
  • Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.
    • With Love (1999).
  • The least I can do is speak out for the hundreds of chimpanzees who, right now, sit hunched, miserable and without hope, staring out with dead eyes from their metal prisons. They cannot speak for themselves.
    • Reported in Janelle Rohr, Animal rights: opposing viewpoints (1989), p. 100; Jane Goodall and Jennifer Lindsey, Jane Goodall: 40 Years at Gombe (1999), p. 6. Occasionally misreported in truncated form, as "The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves", in, e.g., quote honored on EarthE eco money.
  • But let us not forget that human love and compassion are equally deeply rooted in our primate heritage, and in this sphere too our sensibilities are of a higher order of magnitude than those of chimpanzees.
    • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe (2000), p. 215.
  • The more we learn of the true nature of non-human animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding complex social behavior, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in the service of man—whether this be in entertainment, as "pets," for food, in research laboratories, or any of the other uses to which we subject them.
    • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe (2000), p. 245.
  • The greatest danger to our future is apathy.
    • "The Power of One", Time Magazine (August 26, 2002).
  • We can't leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world's people, while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.
  • Thousands of people who say they "love" animals sit down once or twice a day to enjoy the flesh of creatures who have been utterly deprived of everything that could make their lives worth living and who endured the awful suffering and the terror of the abattoirs— and the journey to get there— before finally leaving their miserable world, only too often after a painful death.
    • The Ten Trusts (2003), p. xv.
  • I wanted to talk to the animals like Dr. Dolittle.
    • Reported in Brad Dunn, "Change of Scenery", When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives (2006), p. 51.
  • Today it is generally accepted that although the earliest humans probably ate some meat, it was unlikely to have played a major role in their diet. Plants would have been a much more important source of food.
    • Harvest for Hope (2006).
  • Well, in some ways we’re not successful at all. We’re destroying our home. That’s not a bit successful. Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutan shave been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest,living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.
    • In response to: "If chimps are so much like us, why are they endangered while humans dominate the globe?" Discover Magazine interview, Wednesday, March 28, 2007 with Virginia Morell
  • The long hours spent with them in the forest have enriched my life beyond measure. What I have learned from them has shaped my understanding of human behavior, of our place in nature.
    • Referring to the chimpanzees, reported in Connie Jankowski, Jane Goodall: Primatologist and Animal Activist (2009), p. 13.
  • Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.
    • Reported in Elizabeth LeReverend, "The Irrepressible Dr. Jane Goodall", Verge Magazine (2010).
  • Researchers find it very necessary to keep blinkers on. They don't want to admit that the animals they are working with have feelings. They don't want to admit that they might have minds and personalities because that would make it quite difficult for them to do what they do; so we find that within the lab communities there is a very strong resistance among the researchers to admitting that animals have minds, personalities and feelings.

Reason for Hope: a Spiritual Journey (2000)[edit]

Reason for Hope: a Spiritual Journey (2000), with Phillip Berman.

  • I do not want to discuss evolution in such depth, however, only touch on it from my own perspective: from the moment when I stood on the Serengeti plains holding the fossilized bones of ancient creatures in my hands to the moment when, staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back. You may not believe in evolution, and that is all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves.
    • P. xx.
  • How would I have turned out, I sometimes wonder, had I grown up in a house that stifled enterprise by imposing harsh and senseless discipline? Or in an atmosphere of overindulgence, in a household where there were no rules, no boundaries drawn? My mother certainly understood the importance of discipline, but she always explained why some things were not allowed. Above all, she tried to be fair and to be consistent.
    • P. iv.
  • Is it not possible that the chimpanzees are responding to some feeling like awe? A feeling generated by the mystery of water; water that seems alive, always rushing past yet never going, always the same yet ever different. Was it perhaps similar feelings of awe that gave rise to the first animistic religions, the worship of the elements and the mysteries of nature over which there was no control? Only when our prehistoric ancestors developed language would it have been possible to discuss such internal feelings and create a shared religion.
    • P. 189.
  • Anyone who tries to improve the lives of animals invariably comes in for criticism from those who believe such efforts are misplaced in a world of suffering humanity.
    • P. 217.

"Then & Now: Jane Goodall", CNN (June 19, 2005)[edit]

Quotes reported in a CNN interview, "Then & Now: Jane Goodall", CNN (June 19, 2005).

  • My mission is to create a world where we can live in harmony with nature. And can I do that alone? No. So there is a whole army of youth that can do it. So I suppose my mission is to reach as many of those young people as I can through my own efforts.
  • As I traveled, talking about these issues, I met so many young people who had lost hope. Some were depressed; some were apathetic; some were angry and violent. And when I talked to them, they all more or less felt this way because we had compromised their future and the world of tomorrow was not going to sustain their great-grandchildren.
  • You can imagine my dismay when I got to Cambridge and found that I had done everything wrong. I shouldn't have named the chimps; I should have given them numbers. I couldn't talk about their personalities, their minds or their feelings because that was unique to us.
  • So this is my effort to bring back the hope that we must have if we are to change direction. . . . I think to be fully human, we need to have meaning in our lives, and that's what I am trying to help these young people to find.

The Bonobo in All of Us[edit]

Quotes reported in a NOVA interview, "The Bonobo in All of Us", PBS (Jan 1, 2007).

  • I first saw them in 1978. At the time, I knew a lot about chimps, because I had been studying them. I saw the bonobos at a zoo in Holland, and I thought immediately, they're totally different. The sense you get looking them in the eyes is that they're more sensitive, more sensual, not necessarily more intelligent, but there's a high emotional awareness, so to speak, of each other and also of people who look at them.
  • At the time, I was interested in reconciliation after fights, and I wanted to know how bonobos did it compared to chimpanzees. Very soon I discovered that they were much more sexual in everything they did, and that interested me—not so much for the sex part, even though that became a very hot topic, the peacemaking-through-sex thing—but much more how they have such a peaceful society, because they are much less violent than chimpanzees.
  • If you look at human society, it is very easy, of course, to compare our warfare and territoriality with the chimpanzee. But that's only one side of what we do. We also trade, we intermarry, we allow each other to travel through our territory. There's an enormous amount of cooperation. Indeed, among hunter-gatherers, peace is common 90 percent of the time, and war takes place only a small part of the time. Chimps cannot tell us anything about peaceful relations, because chimps have only different degrees of hostility between communities. Whereas bonobos do tell us something; they tell us about the possibility of having peaceful relationships.
  • It is true that the chimpanzee is dominance-oriented, violent, territorial. But it's also cooperative in many ways, and so that side is sometimes forgotten. The bonobo is sensual, sensitive, sexual, a peacemaker, but also can have a nasty side, and that's sometimes forgotten. So both species are sort of the ends of the spectrum, and we fall somewhere in between. Clearly, we have both of these sides in us, and that's why I sometimes call us "the bipolar apes."
  • I would say there are people in this world who like hierarchies, they like to keep people in their place, they like law enforcement, and they probably have a lot in common, let's say, with the chimpanzee. And then you have other people in this world who root for the underdog, they give to the poor, they feel the need to be good, and they maybe have more of this kinder bonobo side to them. Our societies are constructed around the interface between those two, so we need both actually.
  • Imagine that we didn't know the chimpanzee, that all we knew were those bonobos who have sex all the time and are peaceful and female-dominated and that people would say that this is our only close relative. I think we would have totally different theories about ourselves and our background. But, of course, it didn't happen that way.
  • I think if we study the primates, we notice that a lot of these things that we value in ourselves, such as human morality, have a connection with primate behavior. This completely changes the perspective, if you start thinking that actually we tap into our biological resources to become moral beings. That gives a completely different view of ourselves than this nasty selfish-gene type view that has been promoted for the last 25 years.

Wanderlust interview[edit]

Quotes reported in "The lady and the chimps: an interview with Jane Goodall", Wanderlust (2009), No. 106.

  • Louis deliberately chose someone who hadn’t been to university because theories of animal behaviour at that time were very rigid, and Louis didn’t want someone whose mind was biased in that way. Wise man. But still I had the responsibility to prove myself. I remember looking up at the hills and wondering, “Can I do it?”
  • They communicate, but their communication system is though touch, posture, looks – body language you could call it, but it goes a bit deeper than that. They can learn 400 or more signs in American sign language.
  • At the moment, money from Gombe tourism goes into one pot for Tanzania National Parks and it has to pay for the whole infrastructure of everything. But through our TACARE [community development] programme, we’ve benefited local people hugely.
    The thing is about tourism and research is that they can both focus attention on the place and help to preserve it. It’s tourism involvement with the mountain gorillas that saved them.
    During the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s, people on both sides were being told, “Don’t touch the gorillas”, as it was the second biggest foreign exchange earner after tea in the country. So both sides hoped to win and continue exploiting gorillas.
    So the government can see the value of tourism, but the danger is they over-exploit it. They say, “We’re getting all this money for [gorilla-tracking groups of] six people, now we’ll let it be 12”, and they get more money for tours, so they make it 20. That’s the danger; that they end up killing what people have come to see.


  • Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right.
    • Reported in Yolanda Brooks, Do Animals Have Rights? (2008), p. 23.
  • The most important thing is to actually think about what you do. To become aware and actually think about the effect of what you do on the environment and on society. That's key, and that underlies everything else.
    • Reported in Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., Philippe Cousteau, Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands (2010), p. 14.

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