Photograph by Michael Nichols
Photograph by Michael Nichols
Jane Goodall is a world-renowned pioneer of the study of chimpanzee behavior and prolific author of books and articles.
Born April 3, 1934, in London, Goodall has had a lifelong fascination with animals that began at an early age. In the summer of 1960, the young Englishwoman arrived on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, East Africa. Although it was unheard of for a woman to venture into the wilds of the African forest, going meant the fulfillment of her childhood dream of living like Tarzan and Dr. Dolittle and writing about the animals with whom she lived.
Within a few months of her arrival, Goodall met the famed anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey. One of Leakey's interests was to study wild chimpanzees to gain insight into the evolutionary past of humans. Goodall's patience and persistent desire to understand animals prompted Leakey to choose her for this pioneering study.
In 1965 Goodall earned her Ph.D. in ethology from Cambridge University. Soon after, she returned to Tanzania to continue research and to establish the Gombe Stream Research Centre. Her profound scientific discoveries—such as the discovery of toolmaking by chimpanzees—laid the foundation for all future primate studies. Her research went on to show many other striking similarities between humans and chimpanzees.
In 1977 Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, now based in Arlington, Virginia. Grounded in her pioneering study of chimpanzee behavior, the institute is dedicated to the well-being of all living things.
Goodall is highly respected in both the scientific and lay communities and has received honorary doctorates from numerous universities. She was the international recipient of the 1996 Caring Award and the Sigma Xi society's 1996 William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement. Queen Elizabeth II awarded her the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and she is the only non-Tanzanian to have received the Medal of Tanzania. Additional honors include the Ark Trust Lifetime Achievement Award, the Encyclopaedia Britannica Award, and the Animal Welfare Institute's Albert Schweitzer Award.
In 1995 Goodall received the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal "for her extraordinary 35-year study of wild chimpanzees and for tirelessly defending the natural world we share."
Latest Explorer News
- Will Shrinking Rivers Force Kurdistan’s Nomads to Abandon Their Lifestyle?
- Passenger Ship Spots Illegal Fishing Activity
- Taking Risks to Reach the Top
- Exploring the Ghosts of Wrangel Island
- Artists Evoke Care for Oceans at Blue Vision Summit 4
- BioBlitz 2013: What an Explorer Gets Excited About
- An Expedition Back in Time in Mozambique
- Announcing the 2013 Class of Emerging Explorers
- Mysterious Mounds: Uncovering Matagalpa Archaeology in Central Nicaragua
- 1,000 Miles to Blister Town
Inside National Geographic Magazine
In 1960 a spirited animal lover with no scientific training set up camp in Tanganyika’s Gombe Stream Game Reserve to observe chimpanzees. Today Jane Goodall’s name is synonymous with the protection of a beloved species. At Gombe—one of the longest, most detailed studies of any wild animal—revelations about chimps keep coming.
In Their Words
Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.
Jane Goodall has taught the world more about chimpanzees than anyone else in the world.
Newsletter: Explorer Updates
Stay in the know with updates about the exciting work of our explorers with our newsletter.
Our Explorers in Action
Meet female explorers who have pushed the limits in adventure, science, and more.