Science & Tech, Home & Lifestyle, Community & Government

Humans & The Environment

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 12:24 min

Learn about the moment Dr. Jane turned from scientist to activist, and how she uncovered many problems facing chimps and humans.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Becoming an Activist • Learning About Problems Faced by Humans • Human Intellect • Materialism


People often ask me, why did you leave Gombe? Because after I got my PhD, after I built up the research station, they were the most amazing days of my life. I had time to be out in the forest. I had time to analyze my data, which I loved doing. I had time for writing popular books. I had a son by then, a little boy, who was with me in Gombe. --And still learning things about these amazing chimpanzees, with time to spend with them every day. It happened in 1986. I had just published this book, Chimpanzees of Gombe, Patterns of Behavior, which was meant to be the first in partner books. The second one was going to be infant development and family relations, but I'm afraid now that will never get written. But anyway, when I published that book, Dr. Paul helped me, who at that time was heading the Chicago Academy of Sciences. --Said, Jane, this warrants a conference. Let's find out what we do know about chimpanzees. Let's bring together the different people studying chimpanzees. I think about six study sites in Africa at that time. And some of the people studying chimps in noninvasive captive situations. He wanted to do all the apes. And I said, look, can't we just stick to chimpanzees? --And at that time, including bonobos, which were called pygmy chimpanzees. So he agreed. And it was in October 1986. It was mostly about people talking about different aspects of chimp behavior in different areas, and differences of different habitats and so forth. --Different cultures and so forth. But we had one session on conservation, and it was shocking. It was absolutely shocking, because everywhere people were showing slides or movies of the destruction of the forest habitat. Chimpanzee numbers that were dropping. That was the beginning of the bushmeat trade, that's the commercial hunting of wild animals for food. Chimpanzee being caught in the wire snares set by hunters for mostly Bush pigs and antelope. There was the live animal trade, in which chimpanzee mothers were shot so that their babies could be stolen to sell for entertainment, circuses, zoos, and at that time, medical research. At the same conference we had a session on conditions and some captive situations, and we learned about the very cruel training of chimps used in entertainment. And that was secretly filmed footage of chimpanzees, our closest relatives, in medical research laboratories. --Five foot by five foot bear cages, surrounded by bars on each side overhead and below. And I couldn't sleep for nights after that. So I went to that conference as a scientist. --This wonderful life, planning to continue to go on learning about chimpanzees in Gombe. And without making any conscious decision, I left us an activist, because I knew I had to try to do something for these chimpanzees who had already given me so much. [MUSIC PLAYING] I began to learn a lot ...

About the Instructor

There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.

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Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.

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