Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934. She had always been a lover of all animals. As a child, she had spent her days outdoors watching birds and animals, taking notes and sketching them. From an early age, she had always dreamed of traveling to Africa to observe exotic animals in their natural habitats. She never knew that one day, her dream would soon come true.
On July 16, 1960 Jane, accompanied by her mother and an African cook, traveled to a camp on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Gombe Stream Reserve. Her first attempts to observe a group of chimpanzees failed; she could get no nearer than 500 yards before the chimps fled. After finding another suitable group of chimpanzees to follow, she established a nonthreatening pattern of observation, appearing at the same time every morning on high ground near a feeding area along the Kakaombe Stream valley. The chimpanzees soon tolerated her presence and, within a year, allowed her to move as close as 30 feet to their feeding area. After two years of seeing her every day, they showed no fear and often came to her in search of bananas.
Goodall used her newfound acceptance to establish what she termed the “banana club,” a daily systematic feeding method she used to gain trust and to obtain a more thorough understanding of everyday chimpanzee behavior. Using this method, she became closely acquainted with more than half of the reserve’s 100 or more chimpanzees. She imitated their behaviors, spent time in the trees, and ate their foods.
By remaining in almost constant contact with the chimps, she discovered a number of previously unobserved behaviors. She observed chimps having a complex social system, complete with ritualized behaviors and primitive communication methods, including a primitive “language” system containing more than 20 individual sounds. She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees eating meat and using and making tools. Tool making was previously thought to be an exclusively human trait, until her discovery, to distinguish humans from animals. Ethologists had long believed that chimps were exclusively vegetarian, as well. Goodall witnessed chimps stalking, killing, and eating large insects, birds, and some bigger animals, including baby baboons and bushbacks (small antelopes). On one occasion, she recorded acts of cannibalism. She also noted that chimpanzees throw stones as weapons, use touch and embraces to comfort one another, and develop long-term familial bonds.
For more information about Jane Goodall, visit http://www.biography.com/people/jane-goodall-9542363