Jane Goodall: 6 Fun Facts About the Renowned Ethologist

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Sep. 15 2022, Published 4:44 p.m. ET

Jane Goodall
Source: JGI/Bill Wallauer

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you,” — Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE once stated. “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

In her 88 years of life, the ethologist and environmentalist has accomplished so many things, and inspired so many people to get involved in similar work — so, we’ve rounded up a few fun facts about Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace.

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Jane Goodall has loved animals ever since childhood.

Jane Goodall as a child
Source: JGI-Courtesy of the Goodall Family

Goodall was born on April 3, 1934, in London’s Hampstead area. She took a liking to animals as a young child, as her family had several pets, and she would often wander off to observe local animals, according to Famous Scientists. She also embraced reading books from a young age, as per Famous Scientists, and some of her favorite books were Doctor Doolittle, The Jungle Book, and Tarzan, which all focus on humans who have special connections with animals.

Jane Goodall was just 26 when she first went to work with chimpanzees in Tanzania.

Jane Goodall
Source: Hugo van Lawick

62 years ago, in July 1960, a 26-year-old Jane Goodall first arrived in Tanzania, where she would study wild chimpanzees. Her work with chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park was revolutionary, as she was the first human to integrate herself into a chimpanzee habitat and essentially live alongside them, as opposed to simply observing them from afar.

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Jane Goodall made many transformative discoveries about chimpanzees.

Jane Goodall
Source: Jane Goodall Institute

Goodall published a number of profound and transformative insights about chimpanzees that essentially changed the world. For one thing, she quickly discovered that chimpanzees both make and use tools, which, according to her website, is “considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship.”

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Additionally, Goodall’s close work alongside the chimpanzees allowed her to learn the personalities of different chimpanzees, and determine that these creatures form bonds with each other, go through adolescence, feel emotions, and even declare deadly wars on other members of their species, as per The Guardian.

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Jane Goodall has written many books.

Jane Goodall
Source: Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi

Goodall has written countless books and children’s books over the past five decades, spanning topics ranging from her work with chimpanzees to the climate crisis. Her most recent book, The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times, came out in 2021, and focuses on the importance of remaining hopeful when fighting the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, and more.

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She also recently wrote the introduction for Local Voices, Local Choices: The Tacare Approach to Community-Led Conservation, a 2022 book by the Jane Goodall Institute about local communities who have made efforts to protect their local ecosystems.

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Jane Goodall is vegan and an animal advocate.

Jane Goodall and chimpanzee
Source: Michael Neugebauer

As a huge advocate for animal rights and protection, Goodall has abstained from eating meat for decades. And in recent years, she made the transition vegetarian to vegan, as reported by AARP. According to AARP, Goodall said she made it for animal rights, health reasons, and to protect the environment, since animal agriculture has such a high environmental impact.

Goodall has also drawn attention to the connection between farming animals and pandemics, urging the world to shift to a more plant-based food system to avoid more pandemics in the future. Plus, she has a cookbook called #EATMEATLESS.

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A Barbie was made to commemorate Jane Goodall.

For World Chimpanzee Day 2022 — an annual holiday that commemorates Goodall’s first day working with chimpanzees in Tanzania — Mattel released a Jane Goodall Barbie doll, complete with binoculars and a mini chimpanzee. To honor Goodall’s commitment to sustainability, Mattel is making her Barbie doll from 75 recycled ocean plastic, and it is certified CarbonNeutral.

This article has been updated to include Goodall's full title, a clarification about her work with chimpanzees, and her cookbook.

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