Jane Goodall single-handedly reinvented the world of biology, primatology, and anthropology. Born on this day in 1934, she left her life in England to work in Tanzania. She obtained funding to achieve her life dream and went to live in the Gombe Stream National Park. There, she studied the behavior of chimpanzees, developing rare insight into the way the primates live. She gave them names, much unlike proper scientific conduct, which made several of her contemporaries doubt her work, as they had not seen such behavior themselves. She then returned to Cambridge, England, where she became one of the very few people to earn a PhD without first earning an undergraduate degree. Her work demonstrated how chimpanzees have intelligent brains, with her being the first to point out the now common-knowledge fact of chimpanzees manipulating their surroundings to better serve them, much like we humans do. Goodall fights for environmental safety, campaigning for the banning of tourists from the Gombe National Park, where she spent more than forty years of her life.
“Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.”