Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dr. Jane Goodall

Even at an early age Jane Goodall loved nature. In 1957 she went to Africa for the first time. There she met Louis S. B. Leakey, famous archaeologist and paleontologist. Impressed with her interest and knowledge, he hired her as an assistant then asked her to study a group of chimpanzees in Tanzania with the hope of learning more about our own evolutionary past.

Her first weeks at Gombe were frustrating. The chimpanzees shied away from her, so she had to study them from a peak where she could observe what they did with her binoculars. Her notes revealed many things formerly unknown about chimps. For example, it was thought that chimps were vegetarians. Goodall saw them hunting and eating small mammals. It was also thought that what separated humans from chimps was the use of tools. Goodall, however, witnessed a chimp she named David Graybeard using a stick, stripped of its leaves, to probe a termite mound. When she reported this information to Leakey, he wrote, “Now we must redefine ‘tool,’ redefine ‘man’ or accept chimpanzees as humans,” emphasizing the importance of Goodall’s discovery.

Goodall made many observations in Gombe that were published in National Geographic, with captivating photos by filmmaker/photographer Hugo van Lawick. As the level of support for the Gombe study increased, the pair was able to build a permanent camp with chimp-proof buildings and to hire more researchers. The Gombe Stream Research Center was born.
Chimpanzees, Goodall found, were emotional creatures, exhibiting both altruistic and violent behaviors similar to humans. She continued to study chimps at Gombe even as she traveled worldwide promoting conservation. Her book, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, was published in 1986 and documents her 25 years worth of research.

Goodall started as a scientist and made the shift to activist. Today, she is on the road more than 300 days a year. She lectures, meets with government officials, makes television appearances, does interviews, and raises money for conservation causes. Reaching out to young people is of particular interest to Goodall. She views them as pivotal to protecting the planet. She developed a special program, Roots & Shoots, to get young people involved in global issues and to empower them.

Jane Goodall is a true example of a woman of achievement. She has made a difference in the lives of many, both human and chimp. Her energy is contagious. Her message powerful. We can learn a great deal from someone with her spirit.

I wrote my character, Dr. Nivia Charu, in LAZULI MOON while reading biographies of Dr. Jane Goodall. Although, Nivia is more interested in artifacts than animals, her passion was modeled after Dr. Goodall.


Three people search for the legendary Lazuli Moon in the Valdivian Rainforest.
Two of them will find a treasure they never expected.
One won’t live to see another day.

Archaeologist and professor Dr. Nivia Charu can’t let the Lazuli Moon remain hidden forever. With her teaching position threatened and no funds for an expedition, Nivia fears the blue diamond fabled to have healing powers will never be unearthed.

Physician Dr. Benjamin Forrester wants to cure his uncle’s cancer. His attempts at manufacturing a remedy, however, have failed. Desperate and out of options, Ben needs a miracle, and Nivia may just hold the key.

Up against a crazed boat captain and ancient curses, Ben and Nivia join forces to seek the Lazuli Moon. What waits for them in the depths of the rainforest will either make them famous or kill them.



Laura Breck said...

I've always been fascinated by Jane Goodall. One of our friends filmed a movie with - and about - her and he absolutely loved her. He said she is as good and genuine a person as he's ever met. Thanks for sharing her story, Chris!

Barbara Edwards said...

Jane Goodall was a fascinating person. Thanks for sharing.

Alison H. said...

I've been intrigued by Jane Goodall since reading about her in Life magazine as a child. Does anyone else remember Life magazine? Thanks for reminder of what an interesting, dedicated woman she is.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Whenever a documentary is on tv about her, I have to watch. Fascinating life. And Alison - I do remember Life magazine.

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

Love Jane Goddall. Without question a woman of achievement and not a bad one to inspire a character after.

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks for your delightful post on Jane Goddall. She was in her world in the jungle. I prefer a world with less bugs and air conditioning--I'm such a wuss. Still, we are a better society because of dedicated women like her.

Jannine Gallant said...

What important work Jane does now, getting her message out to the world. She traded one sort of jungle for another!

Did you get a chance to visit a rainforest while researching Lazuli Moon? What an experience that would be.

Christine DePetrillo said...

Didn't get to go to a rainforest for research, but I've spent enough time in the woods to write realistically.

My students are part of Roots & Shoots and we've done many environmental projects over the years.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Chris,
Lovely blog. Thank you for telling us about Jane Goodall.