Jane Goodall is one of the world's most celebrated primatologists, conservationists, and advocates for animal rights. Born in London, England in 1934, she had a love for animals and the outdoors from a young age and spent much of her childhood observing animals in her backyard. Rather than having a traditional teddy bear, her father gifted her a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee when she was very young. Her fondness for the toy was unwavering, despite the fact that her mother thought the toy to be improper for a young girl and that it would give her nightmares. It did the opposite - Jubilee was the spark that lit the fire inspiring Goodall’s love for animals and wildlife. Today Goodall still has Jubilee on her bedroom dresser in London.
This early interest in animals inspired her move to a friend’s farm in Kenya at the age of 23 which would change the course of her life forever. On the advice of a mutual friend, Goodall called Louis Leaky, Kenyan archaeologist and paleontologist, with the intention of meeting to discuss animals. What we know now is that going into this meeting, Leaky was already looking for someone to take on the task of chimpanzee researcher to assist in his study of apes and their connection to hominoid behaviour - however, he kept this to himself at the time. Instead, he invited Goodall to come work for him as his secretary for a year before eventually arranging for her to pursue the study of primate behaviour and anatomy in London with some of the world’s leading primatologists.
Leaky raised funds for his study and in 1960 Goodall moved to Tanzania with her mother Gombe Stream National Park to work continue her research in the field. The presence of her mother was considered mandatory at the time by the chief warden. As the field was dominated by men, it was deemed inappropriate for Goodall to live and study there without an invested chaperone. In her autobiography, Goodall credits her mother for encouraging her to pursue her career in primatology despite the fact that women were not accepted in the field at the time. Thanks to Goodall’s trailblazing, smashing-of-glass-ceilings, and encouragement of young women to join the field, primatology is now made up of equal parts men and women.
Leaky pulled some strings and arranged funding for Goodall, who at the time had no degree, to attend the University of Cambridge two years later in 1962. She was the eighth person to ever be allowed to pursue a PhD in Cambridge before having a bachelor’s degree, and four years later she had completed her thesis on the behaviour of chimpanzees detailing her five years of work at the Gombe Reserve. Her work challenged two longstanding beliefs - that chimpanzees were vegetarian and that humans were the only species able to construct tools.
She observed chimps using sticks and twigs to “fish” for ants in anthills, and even discovered they pick away to remove leaves and lumps from the twigs to make them as smooth as possible. She also observed that chimpanzees not only hunt and eat other chimps of different species, but they can also become violent and even perform cannibalism to show dominance. While the chimps were for the most part docile and gentle, they had a dark side the same way that humans have a dark side capable of war, violence and harm.
By making these discoveries and connections between primates and humans, Goodall held a mirror up to the human race and our social constructs, helping us better understand as a species why we are the way we are. To this day at 88 years old, Goodall is still spending 300 days a year traveling to speak on social issues and to advocate for the wildlife and the environment. If she can dedicate her entire life to understanding and protecting the environment, the least we can do is listen to what she is teaching and apply those learnings to our production.
Photographs of Goodall toting a camera around the rainforest were the inspiration behind the GOODALL Camera bag. Available in either DESSERTO Leather or Econyl, this bag is made in Canada with all upcycled and ethically sourced materials. That means zero impact on the chimps environment, or anyone’s environment for that matter.
You can shop the GOODALL Camera Bag here.