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Science & Tech

Threats to Animals

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 12:49 min

The problems facing humans and animals are all interconnected. Learn how conflicts between humans and animals threaten both species.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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It's pretty clear, if we care about conserving chimpanzees in the wild, that it's not a simple problem, that there are multiple problems, and that they differ from place to place. But certainly, the human population growth, the fact that people are moving out into the forest, taking with them disease-- chimpanzees are so like us, they can catch human disease. So can gorillas, and this can pass from us to the apes, and from the apes to the humans. And a recent, awful example was the Ebola outbreak, which destroyed thousands of gorillas, but also affected thousands of human beings. Cattle, people eating more and more meat. Forests cut down to grow grain to feed the cattle in the intensive farms, but also herders moving the cattle deeper and deeper into the forest, particularly in areas of drought caused by climate change. And as the cattle start eating the young plants, gradually, this is killing the forest. And I've seen forest change from old growth forest to woodland as the young plants are consumed. And then eventually, leading to desertification, soil erosion-- death, death to the environment. And so when you go to a circus and see a chimpanzee performing, or when you look at an advertisement, and you see a chimpanzee dressed up, you may smile, and say, how cute. Oh, they're like people. But you have to realize that this is part of a major, major problem. It's a chimpanzee who's been taken from their mother. Either the mother was shot in the wild, which still goes on to some extent in some countries, or the chimp was taken from the mother in a captive situation. For the baby chimp, it's not that much different. They are trained cruelly. They're dressed up in clothes to make them look cute. To me, that's very disrespectful. And it's partly to do with animal welfare. We shouldn't be treating chimpanzees like that. We need to stop the use of chimps in entertainment. And now, this is a big issue in China, where chimpanzees are suddenly being used in large numbers for advertising. So it's a huge battle. How do we fight it? Education, people need to understand this isn't just a little cute creature, it's part of a whole system of exploitation starting with the destruction of the forest. With more and more people needing more and more food, that leads to commercial bushmeat hunting. And it's a whole complex, interrelated set of problems. When you put them all together, you're pushing chimpanzees, gorillas, and so many other animals, and their forest homes to extinction. [MUSIC PLAYING] One of the problems also facing chimpanzees, and of course, other wild animals too, is that as human populations grow and move deeper into the forest, you get conflict between the wild animals and the farmers. It's particularly obvious with elephants. Elephants losing more and more of their habitat, needing huge amounts of food to keep their huge bodi...

Take action

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.


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

I met Jane Goodall in North Carolina just over 20 years ago. I love her passion and compassion and have been reminded that everyone can make a difference.

We found this very informative and while parts are distressing there is room for hope and for action.

This was such an amazing experience. Jane is one of my heroes and I feel like I learned so much from this.

Thanks Dr. Jane Goodall and Masterclass for offering this class!!! I have more hope and feel less lonely now after taking this class.


Antonia T.

I once saw in Copenhagen a photography exhibition about sharks cut in pieces and left alive in the bottom of the ocean. Horrible. They should teach this in the schools. Here in Spain everybody eats so much meat. My children are an exception. But they don't have any friend or teacher who is vegetarian (and they have lots of friends!). So, until people don't start teaching the horror of killing animals in schools, meat production & slaughtering will not stop.

Bernardo F.

That's horrible, reaching a point where animals are threated just for satisfying the bare necessities of people. The problem is that, even if we're invading virgin territories, we still want animals out of "our properties". All those fields, houses, towns, have been settled in what previously was a natural environment! Sure, there are strategies to not harm animals roaming, but is it fair to take those resources just because we don't know how to respect others and to have a humbler lifestyle?

Diana H.

Jane speaks on the thoughtlessness of killing sharks for only the fin. There is a marine biologist named Ocean Ramsey who studied ethology as well who does amazing work with sharks if anyone is interested she has some videos online. Hearing how farmers who border these wildlife camps deal with elephants by starting bee hives was very interesting. Nature provides solutions when we observe!

A fellow student

Jane Goodall is the only person I’ve ever heard say that one of the best things that happened to her was growing up during WWII in England

Mary H.

Examples of human interaction with monkeys are included in "Josh Gates Animal Encounters."

Mary H.

Here is our curriculum guide, from Cincinnati Museum Center, that accompanied the IMAX film Wild Chimpanzees. There are still some good suggestions.

Mary H.

Major exploitation also includes climate engineering. See my students' activism.

Mary H.

The sepia silhouettes are not unlike the artwork of Paul Goble. (We celebrate books by and about indigenous authors at Mount Kenya Academy.)

Katerina V.

This really drives me to tears and I admire Dr Jane for speaking about these issues so calmly. This should really be a part of everyday education: respect to Nature as a whole because it is our home, awareness of how our behaviours affect the environment, practical learning on how to reduce the use of plastic and other harmful materials, and how to be less greedy and more in balance with Nature.

Louanne F.

The phrase Killing the Future should be a battlecry for conservation - that is absolutely what is happening. The heartbreaking and frustrating aspect to all of these problems is that they are global - if we as a country make changes, how do we convince other countries and cultures to do the same? I'm sure they are feeling the same way about us, in our present political culture.