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Jane Goodall

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Early Life

Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934 in London, England. Her father was a businessman and her mother an author. Growing up, Jane loved animals. She dreamt of someday going to Africa in order to see some of her favorite animals in the wild. She particularly liked chimpanzees. One of her favorite toys as a child was a toy chimpanzee which she loved to play with.

Going to Africa

Jane spent her late teens and early twenties saving money to go to Africa. She worked various jobs including as a secretary and a waitress. When she was twenty-three Jane finally had enough money to visit a friend who lived on a farm in Kenya.

Jane fell in love with Africa and decided to stay. She met British archaeologist Louis Leakey who offered her a job studying chimpanzees. Jane was so excited. She moved to the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania and began to observe the Chimpanzees.

Studying Chimpanzees

When Jane began studying chimpanzees in 1960 she had no formal training or education. This may have actually helped her as she had her own unique way of observing and recording the chimp's actions and behaviors. Jane spent the next forty years of her life studying chimpanzees. She discovered many new and interesting things about the animals.

Naming the Animals

When Goodall first began studying chimpanzees she gave each chimp she observed a name. The standard scientific way of studying animals at the time was to assign each animal a number, but Jane was different. She gave the chimps unique names that reflected their appearance or personalities. For example, she named the chimpanzee which first approached her David Greybeard because he had a grey chin. Other names included Gigi, Mr. McGregor, Goliath, Flo, and Frodo.

Discoveries and Accomplishments

Jane learned a lot about chimpanzees and made some important discoveries: Over time, Jane's relationship grew closer and closer to the chimpanzees. For a period of nearly two years she became member of a chimpanzee troop, living with the chimps as part of their day to day lives. She was eventually kicked out when Frodo, a male chimp who didn't like Jane, became the leader of the troop.

Later Life

Jane wrote several articles and books about her experiences with chimpanzees including In the Shadow of Man, The Chimpanzees of Gombe, and 40 Years at Gombe. She has spent much of her later years protecting chimpanzees and preserving the habitats of animals throughout the world.


Jane won many awards for her environmental work including the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservations Prize, the Living Legacy Award, Disney's Eco Hero Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science.

There have been several documentaries made about Jane's work with chimpanzees including Among the Wild Chimpanzees, The Life and Legend of Jane Goodall, and Jane's Journey.

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