Someone asked me the other day which woman I admired most. There are so many incredible women in this world, but one of my first choices would have to be Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and UN Messenger of Peace. I am thankful for this brilliant yet humble woman who has devoted her life to speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Known as “the woman who redefined man,” Goodall’s extensive research into the behavior of chimpanzees has changed, on a profound level, how we view the relationships between humans and other animals. For more than four decades, she has studied the social and family interactions of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
“In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics?” Goodall says. “How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.”
Goodall’s love of animals began as a child when she was given a lifelike chimpanzee toy named Jubilee by her mother. She still has the toy. “My mother’s friends were horrified by this toy, thinking it would frighten me and give me nightmares,” Goodall wrote in her book Reason For Hope.
While she is a scientist, Goodall is also a passionate conservationist and humanitarian. Her multi-faceted approach demonstrates that to be a scientist does not mean one has to be dispassionate about one’s subject.And Goodall is passionate about this planet and its creatures.
In the following TED video, she says the only real difference between humans and chimpanzees is our sophisticated language. She urges us to start using it to change the world.
Watch the TED video, Jane Goodall: What separates us from the apes
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