Celebrating a Legacy of Hope: Dr. Jane Goodall Turns 90

Jane speaks at the Roots & Shoots event at the JGI Spring Gala, in Chicago, March 23, 2019. PHOTO Credit | JGI Mary Paris

We are pleased to have the honour of introducing world-renowned ethologist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall. Over 60 years ago, Jane Goodall first set foot on the shores of what is today Tanzania’s Gombe National Park to begin her pioneering behavioural studies of chimpanzees.

In the last six decades, this research has transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.

Today, Jane’s mission has evolved into a quest to empower every individual to make the world a better place for people, other animals, and the planet we share.

In 1977, Dr. Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global leader in protecting chimpanzees and their habitat through Jane’s innovative community-led ‘Tacare’ conservation approach.

JGI operates through 24 global offices supporting groundbreaking science at Gombe, the home of the world’s longest-running wild chimpanzee study.

In addition, JGI leads the way in trailblazing science-driven programs, advocacy, animal welfare at its sanctuaries and beyond, as well as youth empowerment through Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program now spans almost 70 countries.

Roots & Shoots celebrates its 33rd Anniversary and Tacare celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Goodall had been traveling nearly 300 days a year on a perpetual world speaking tour.

In response to the pandemic’s travel restrictions, Jane and JGI created ‘Virtual Jane’ - a way to connect with audiences virtually from her family home in Bournemouth, England, where she grew up, through remote lectures, media interviews, countless recordings, and her popular podcast, the “Jane Goodall Hopecast.”

Jane is a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and Dame of the British Empire. Her many awards and honours are simply too numerous to list, most recently becoming the 2021 Templeton Prize Laureate.

Dr. Jane Goodall, United Nations Messenger of Peace, meets with kids after a UN International Day of Peace event in New York City. Credit: Mark Maglio.

A prolific author, Jane’s newest book, “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times,” was published, during the fall of 2021. It brings us great pleasure to join together now to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the birth of a true global icon, Dr. Jane Goodall.

A Legacy Rooted in Tanzania

At 26, Dr. Jane Goodall embarked on what would become the cornerstone of primatological research, challenging the scientific community’s perceptions and redefining humanity’s place in the natural world.

Her groundbreaking observations—that chimpanzees make and use tools—dissolved the once rigid barriers separating us from the animal kingdom, highlighting instead our shared inheritance and vulnerability.

Yet, as the years have woven themselves into the fabric of her legacy, Dr. Goodall’s mission has morphed into a clarion call for conservation, a testament to her deep-seated love for Tanzania and its treasures.

The Gombe Stream Research Centre, the birthplace of these revelations, stands as a beacon of hope and a symbol of the enduring bond between Dr. Goodall and the land that cradled her discoveries.

This transformative research continues today as the longest-running study of wild chimpanzees in in the world and one of the two longest studies of any wild animals.

The dog who helped Jane defy scientific thinking

Although Jane’s name is most famously linked to chimpanzees she loves all animals and when she was 10 years old she determined she would one day live with wild animals in Africa and write books about them.

Only her mother told her to follow her dream. There was no money for university, but she saved up until she had enough for a return fare to Kenya for a holiday with a school friend.

There she met Dr. Louis Leakey who gave her the chance to be the first person to study wild chimpanzees. She was amazed at how like us they are in their behaviour. After a year Leakey said that she needed a degree so as to be taken seriously.

When she got to Cambridge University she was shocked to be told that she could not talk about chimps having personalities, minds or emotions – those were unique to us. Luckily she had a great teacher as a child – her dog, Rusty.

And he, along with her guinea pigs, cats and other pets, taught her that this was rubbish. And gradually science accepted that we are part of and not separated from the animal kingdom.

Today we know that every elephant, donkey, rhino pangolin, every parrot and crow and octopus, is an intelligent individual with emotions similar to our – and all know fear and pain.

For a whole year Jane will be celebrating her 90th birthday. And for her the best celebration of all took place last week on a beach in California where she was greeted by 90 dogs - and, of course, by their owners! And as she moved among them her thoughts went back to her childhood companion, Rusty.

The Heartbeat of Hope

Today, when people tell Jane she should be slowing down, she says she has to speed up. She believes she was put on this Earth with a mission – to give people hope. And it is not surprising that people are losing hope.

We are living in grim times, and thanks to our own reckless behaviour we now face climate change and loss of biodiversity and so many other threats to our future. And if we lose hope we are doomed, for without hope people fall into apathy and do nothing.

And so she travels relentlessly around the world because millions of people are inspired, by her lectures and writings, to take action. And the cumulative effect of even small actions such as clearing litter, looking after an injured animals or reaching out to help someone in need can make a huge difference.

There’s a reason why Dr. Jane Goodall’s story resonates so deeply—it’s written in the language of unwavering hope and undying passion.

With every passing year, her resolve only sharpens, fueled by the realization that time is a luxury she, and we, can no longer afford to waste.

Facing the twilight years, Dr. Goodall channels her energies with increasing fervour, aware that each moment is a precious opportunity to advocate for the planet and its inhabitants.

This sentiment echoes in the hearts of those touched by her work. From despairing souls who’ve found renewed purpose in her lectures, to the countless individuals inspired by her written word, Dr. Goodall transforms hopelessness into action, demonstrating the profound impact of one person’s dedication to change.

From Tanzania to the Global Stage

The Roots & Shoots program, germinating from the soil of Tanzania with a group of twelve students, has blossomed into a global movement that spans over 60 countries.

This initiative embodies Dr. Goodall’s philosophy: that every individual makes a difference every single day, and that it’s up to the individual to choose what difference they want to make, possessing the power to effect change.

It’s a movement that began in the heart of Africa but now pulses around the world, inspiring action towards a more sustainable future.

Similarly, the Jane Goodall Institute’s community-led conservation programs, initiated by Dr. Goodall and her team in Tanzania, showcase the profound efficacy of involving local communities in the stewardship of their environment.

Dr. Jane Goodall with chimpanzee Freud at Gombe National Park in Tanzania Credit: Michael Neugebauer. PHOTO Credit | Michael Neugebaue

The Tacare approach, a model of conservation that respects the interconnectivity of humans and the natural world, has set a global precedent for sustainable development that is made possible by helping people find ways of making a living without destroying their environment.

Tanzania’s Pride, The World’s Beacon

Dr. Goodall’s narrative is inseparable from Tanzania’s own story of environmental conservation.

Her pioneering work in Gombe has not only elevated Tanzania’s iconic wildlife on the global stage but has also highlighted the nation’s rich biodiversity.

She hopes that the hundreds of people who took part in R&S activities in school and university will work to protect Tanzania’s forests and grasslands and restore all that has been destroyed. Many of these R&S alumni are now in decision-making positions and are committed to preserving nature’s splendour.

On her 90th birthday, we extend our deepest gratitude to Dr. Jane Goodall—a true guardian of Tanzania’s natural heritage and a global icon of conservation.

Her legacy transcends scientific discovery, embodying the spirit of hope and the relentless pursuit of a better world.

Join the #GoodAllDay Campaign on April 3rd Celebrate Dr. Jane Goodall’s 90th Birthday with #GoodAllDay on April 3rd!

Join Tanzanians and supporters worldwide in acts of kindness to honour her mission of global hope and kindness. Plant a tree, help someone in need, or spread a message of hope to mirror Jane’s positive impact.

Share your kindness using #GoodAllDay on social media to inspire a global ripple of positivity. Let’s unite to make this day a global celebration of Dr. Goodall’s legacy.

Encourage your network to join and show the world the power of collective kindness. As Dr. Jane says, “Together, we can make a difference!” Let’s honour her legacy for the planet and make April 3rd 2024 memorable day of shared action and hope.