April 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Jane Goodall.

Jane Goodall

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. ~ Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall, chimpanzee expert, anthropologist and UN Messenger of Peace, has a birthday today.

I remember Dr. Goodall’s work from quite early on in my childhood. My mom was a sign language interpreter and, as young children are, I was completely enamored with everything she did, and I was particularly interested in this secret language she was able to “speak” so fluidly.

I wanted to know more.

So, my mom introduced me to Koko the gorilla, and her ability to understand and use sign language to communicate with Dr. Goodall. I was not only impressed with Koko’s abilities (and a little jealous) but was completely won over by her giant features, bright eyes and friendly disposition. I was motivated and inspired by her, thus beginning my awareness of and love for animals.

I went on to learn how to sign the alphabet, my name and a handful of other useful phrases.

This was the first time Jane Goodall had influenced my life but it wouldn’t be the last. I was touched by her stance on vegetarianism in which she states she gave up meat because, “…it represents fear, pain and death.” I was a vegetarian for 10 years before becoming a vegan and I have to thank Dr. Goodall for supporting and inspiring such a compassionate awareness about food and where it comes from.

Dr. Goodall was the first person, that I knew of, who was able to observe individual personalities, the range of emotion and the communal bonds shared by animals that so many had refused even existed. With this knowledge she was able to affirm what animal lovers already knew; animals are not numbers, or inanimate objects, they too, experience pain and suffering, joy and happiness.

This video of a rescued chimp hugging Dr. Goodall proves this is true (plus it is one of my favorites).

Over the years her work with chimpanzees has transformed into a worldwide endeavor to protect our environments, the species within them and ultimately to improve the human condition through education, prevention and the unity of our young people. This approach eventually expanded into what is now the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI).

The impact of the JGI has been immense and far-reaching from the Girls Peer-to-Peer Education program in Uganda helping to educate girls on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health to the Roots and Shoots program worldwide, that not only helps to unite passionate young people, but advocates for contact with and learning about the environment as part of our education system.

Even if you’ve never heard of Dr. Jane Goodall and brilliant her work, I am certain that it has affected your life in many positive ways. Please join me in wishing this wonderfully fearless lady a very happy 80th birthday!

You can also join Roots and Shoots for Jane’s birthday party live through Google + and you can even sign her birthday card.


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          Editor: Renée Picard

          Photo: 66South


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