Monday, January 18, 2010
She didn’t know it at the time, but she was making history.
In those early years, it was unheard for animals in scientific arenas to be given names. Instead, they were assigned numbers because ‘they were just animals, after all’. Jane would hear none of it. The first chimpanzees she observed were then dubbed David Greybeard and Goliath. None of this number nonsense for Jane, she was on a path of discovery.
During her many years of observation, Jane witnessed what can only be described as world changing. Shortly after arriving in Gombe, Jane observed chimps eating meat. This shattered the myth that chimpanzees were vegetarian and opened the door to the real lives of these creatures that are not so unlike ourselves. She also observed acts of compassion and tool-making, traits which were previously seen as solely ‘human’. Chimps also routinely self-medicated with plants, passed on knowledge within a group and demonstrated planning for future events. One by one, Jane witnessed chimps doing the things we said only humans could do. In 1970, Jane also noted chimps performing a spontaneous dance-like display by waterfalls. Many believe that this exhibited expression of awe runs parallel to early forms of religion in humans.
What I mean to say is, by observing chimpanzees for what they really were, Jane challenged what it meant to be human.
Of course, the scientific community was not always happy about Jane’s findings. Einstein said that ‘great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds’. This was never truer than for Jane’s work. When it comes to declaring the great capacities of humans, we are easy to dole out the compliments. But when it comes to other species, we’re sometimes not so generous. Jane was ahead of her time, but she forged ahead, stated her case and continued her work.
For half a century, Jane has worked tirelessly for animals, conservation and people. She understands that to help the environment, we must also help people and vice versa. Thirty years after her adventures in Gombe, Dr. Goodall created Roots & Shoots, a humanitarian and environmental educational program for youth around the world. To date, the Roots & Shoots program is active in over 100 countries.
Dr. Jane Goodall is a testament to how influential one person can be in the course of history. She opened the door for others like myself to study animals, but have a heart while doing it. She exemplifies integrity, intelligence and compassion for all life. I had the pleasure of meeting Jane once – she oozes serenity and understanding. Her spirit is contagious and she holds nothing but hope for the future of our planet, despite the events we may see unfolding before us. In her eyes, you can see that she is an adventurer at heart.
Today, I’d like to honor Dr. Jane Goodall by having a little giveaway. Recently, I dropped by the Jane Goodall Institute in Toronto and bought some goodies. Along with many other organizations, the Jane Goodall Institute partners with African women through micro-enterprise loans. By supporting Ugandan Paper Bead Jewellery makers, we are giving them economic alternatives to selling bushmeat (chimpanzee meat) in the local markets.
I have one necklace (gorgeous, 3-strand purple beaded) and one bracelet (also 3-strand with black and irridescent beads). To spread the word of conservation and compassion I’d like to give them away! Because I love alliteration, I’m calling it the Great Goodall Giveaway (catchy, no?)
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment here and answer the following question -
Which animal do you most relate to, and why?
To enter go here