Jane Goodall's Cliché-Smashing Career

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Jane Goodall's Cliché-Smashing Career Jane Goodall Institute

Jane Goodall, the primatologist-turned-activist, made revolutionary discoveries about chimpanzees that forever changed our understanding of our closest genetic relatives. Her work redefined our understanding of chimpanzees and, in doing so, upending long-held beliefs about humans and the rest of the animal kingdom—while catapulting her to international fame. She is arguably the most famous female scientist in history, revered as much for her work as for inspiring generations of girls and women.

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Jane Goodall, in her home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, writes 20-30 letters a day trying to further her goals of protecting chimps, their rights and habitat. Jane uses her "touch" to empower the individual into thinking that what they do can make a difference. The force of her personality makes it difficult to say no. She learned from Flo, a high-ranking female chimp at Gombe, that paying attention to the individual gets results. Michael Nichols/National Geographic
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Goodall rose to prominence by making the act of observing animals accessible to the public and less shrouded in academia. Michael Neugebauer
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Goodall's mentor, famed British anthropologist and archaeologist Louis Leakey would say later that it was her non-academic background that prompted him to select her for a research project studying chimps.Jane Goodall Institute
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Leakey's project was just the beginning for Goodall. Here she films chimps with her husband, wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick, behind camera in January 1974. They were married for ten years, beginning in 1964.AP
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Goodall with one of her research subjects in the Gombe National Park in northern Tanzania, Jan 23, 1972. Gombe would before a second home over her career, she conducted much of her research there.Bettmann/CORBIS
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Goodall's mother Vanne joined her from time to time in Gombe and was a supportive force. She also assisted with research. Here she helps sort specimens from the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve.Jane Goodall Institute
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Established in 1968, Gombe is only 20 square mile, but for the chimps that live there it can mean the difference between life and death. Goodall first visited the area when she was 26 as part of Leaky's project.Jane Goodall Institute
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Goodall writing up her field notes in her tent at Gombe. At the time very little was known of chimpanzee behavior or community structure.Jane Goodall Institute