Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Interview with Jane Goodall

The latest issue of Discover magazine has an interview with primatologist Jane Goodall. She reminisces about her decades-long study of chimpanzee behavior which started with a passion for studying animals.

When you arrived in Africa, did you imagine you’d be spending 47 years involved with chimpanzees?

No [laughs]. How could I have back then? One year there seemed enormous at the time. I was only 23. I was invited to Africa by a school friend whose parents had moved to Kenya. One of their friends said, “If you’re interested in animals, you should meet Dr. Louis Leakey.” So I went to see him at the Coryndon Museum [where Leakey was director], and he ended up offering me a job as his secretary. During the time I worked for him, I had the opportunity to go out on the Serengeti with him. He knew I didn’t care about clothes and hair, dresses and parties, and that I really, really, really wanted to live with animals in the bush. And that I didn’t care about a degree—I just wanted to learn.
She also talks about her work to preserve the chimp habitat in Tanzania's Gombe National park.

You can learn more about the Goodall Institute's current chimpanzee research on the Gombe Chimpanzee blog, which cleverly integrates observations of chimp behavior with Google Earth locations.