Business, Politics & Society

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
In 29 lessons, Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
Get All-Access


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 thoroughly enjoyed listening and absorbing what Jane had to say about her work with Chimpanzees to finding optimism in such a chaotic time.

I dare to say that everyone has become a better human being after watching these classes with Dr. Jane Goodall. She's an absolute treasure and her kindness and lessons will stay for many years to come, and hopefully many generations.

This masterclass should be made mandatory for everyone on this planet..

It has given me so much more awareness and understanding of the issues facing animals and the environment. It has also inspired me to make changes in my own life and how I can do that. It has even inspired me want to work in the field of conservation, even if just part time and on a voluntary basis


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.


​It is heartbreaking to hear these things, especially when I am someone who was born and raised in China. I am working in China now too. I realized how urgent it is to increase the awareness of people for many things. Education is so so so important everywhere. Education helps us understand.

Kalia D.

They said one of our special characteristics is Man - The Toolmaker. Somewhere else I read a definition of 'tool-making' that went like: to take something out of its natural context, assign it a different purpose and modify it until it is useful for that purpose. This gift of toolmaking has two sides, on the one hand it makes possible elaborate works of handicraft and art, efficient machines, and so forth. On the other hand, it led us to rip sentient beings out of their natural context, assign to them a different purpose, and modify them until they fit. I don't know if you understand. Rip off the shark fin, throw the bleeding animal back into the ocean, sell the fin, get the gold. That's 'tool-making' - in it's darker form. Claim the land, burn off the trees, throw on the feritilizer, get your crops etc. Take the chimp to the circus, the african 'savage' to the slave farm, it's all the same principle. ZhuangZi was right I guess, the tree that is good for nothing, is truly free and rests perfectly in his treeness. Man - The Toolmaker. I'm so glad it's not the only thing that defines our humanity...

Mia S.

"Subsistence hunting allowed people living in and around the forest to just shoot enough animals to keep themselves alive, and to allow the animals to sustain themselves. They would never, ever shoot a mother with a baby, because that's killing the future. Once this hunting become commercial, then the hunters were out to get everything. A mother with a baby - this was a double success for them, they could sell the mother as bush meat, and in some parts of Africa, chimpanzee meat is a delicacy. In other places, chimpanzee parts are used in - it's basically witchcraft. They could sell the babies, and the babies could fetch a price in the market place, people buying them as pets. But then, deliberately shooting mothers with babies so that the babies could be stolen, sold to animal dealers, and then sold abroad - for entertainment, zoos, medical research. Very lucrative trade. For every baby that survived and arrived where it was sold to, there were other chimps killed - the mother was killed, sometimes males would come in to try to protect, they would be killed as well. We thought for a long time that because of raising public awareness, because of changing legislation so that it became illegal for countries to buy wild-born chimpanzees, we thought that this trading of chimpanzees for entertainment and medical research was more or less stopped. But unfortunately, recently, the live animal trade started up again. Hundreds of infant chimpanzees are now being sold mostly to or through the Middle East to China and other parts of Asia. We have to start tackling this all over again. The UAE, which has been one of the areas where wild animals have been exploited as pets, has now banned the keeping of wild animals as pets by private citizens - and that's a huge step in the right direction."