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Saturday, April 2, 2022

 APRIL 2022


This month we pay tribute to Dame Jane Goodall, DBE, as she celebrates her 88th birthday (April 3).  Dr Goodall is a familiar if not lifelong presence in the consciousness of baby boomers who came of age while watching her pioneering work in primatology and anthropology unfold in real time through the National Geographic media platforms from the mid-1960s to the present day!  Goodall is regarded as the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees.  This United Kingdom born scientist who earned her University of Cambridge doctorate in Ethology (study of animal behavior) has helped raise awareness and understanding of conservation, sustainability and ethical treatment of animals.  Her pioneering work showed that similarities between humans and chimpanzees were evident in emotion, intelligence as well as social and family relationships.  Jane Goodall's trailblazing career has not only expanded the boundaries of science but has opened up new pathways (or in corporate business terms - broken the glass ceiling) so that the once male-dominated fields of primatology and anthropology are now nearly evenly made up of both men and women.  In sum, she has been a role model of professional excellence, dignity, integrity and dedication.

Most baby boomers first became acquainted with Jane Goodall through the National Geographic publications (School Bulletin for young readers and its adult mainstream National Geographic Magazine) and most notably, via network TV, the 1965 primetime National Geographic Society special "Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees."  In these venues, a worldwide audience witnessed how Goodall gave personal names to each of the chimpanzees instead of numbers, as she observed them to have unique and individual personalities - a rather unconventional idea at that time!  She recorded peaceful, affectionate behavior along with an aggressive side to chimpanzee nature.

In the decades that have followed, Dr Goodall has not only helped to raise awareness and understanding of the animal kingdom, but her humanitarian and environmental work has helped inspire public support for pursuance of scientific research as a career path.  Her title of "Dame" is associated with the DBE award (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) which reflects her scientific contributions along with public service via charitable organizations and research institutions.

A couple of fun facts or trivia concerning the inspired life of Jane Goodall:  First, her career benefited enormously from the mentorship she received from the famed paleoanthropologist Dr Louis Leakey. Goodall worked directly for Dr Leakey, who later sent her to various parts of Africa to do field research and in between pursue academic study with the leading authorities of the day.  Dr Leakey also helped raise funds to help Goodall with her scientific research.  A second fun fact shows that Jane Goodall has a good sense of humor.  The famed cartoonist Gary Larson featured two chimpanzees grooming each other in his "Far Side" comic strip and when one discovered a blonde hair on the other, inquired "Conducting a little more 'research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?"  As Dr Goodall was in Africa when that cartoon was published, the Jane Goodall Institute thought it was in bad taste, describing it as an "atrocity" and threatening legal action.  When Goodall returned from her travels and saw the cartoon, she thought it was amusing and stopped the Institute's legal action!  In Larson's Far Side Gallery 5, Goodall wrote the preface and praised his work while detailing her perspective on the controversy!

One more fun fact, and this occurred very recently (March 3, 2022) as The Lego Group -- in honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day -- issued set number 40530 "A Jane Goodall Tribute" that depicts a Jane Goodall minifigure with three chimpanzees in an African forest!  In appreciation for her groundbreaking work that has promoted a better understanding of our world, please join us in wishing Jane Goodall a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY ... and many more!

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