Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall speaks to FIU community about hope and action

World-famous primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall DBE speaking at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. Photo by Ashley Anzorandia.

Alexander Luzula | Staff Writer

World-renowned primatologist, anthropologist, and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall spoke at FIU on Friday, March 31 from 7 to 9 p.m. in an event called An Evening with Jane Goodall: Inspiring Hope through Action. 

Goodall spoke on her life’s work and impact, what people can do to help the environment, and also responded to questions from the audience. The event was  co-sponsored by Zoo Miami and Student Of Life for Life.

Just three days shy of her 89th birthday, Goodall garnered a packed audience of students and community members in the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. 

She began by briefly recounting her life’s story, her childhood in England, where an excursion to a farmyard and her mother’s support cultivated a lifelong passion for studying animals. 

A pivotal visit to South Africa led to her employment under anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey, who aided in getting her funding for the 1960 excursion to the jungles of Tanzania, setting the  path for her groundbreaking research.

“It really puzzles me. A little girl born in England, 89 years ago, to a family with very little money, growing up mostly during World War Two. How is it that little girl can stand in front of you now, 89 years later and have such a welcome? To me, it’s extraordinary.”

Goodall is best known for her work as a researcher and scientist studying chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Beginning in 1960 and continuing periodically until 1975, Goodall lived among the chimpanzees, cataloging their behaviors and even naming and developing bonds with her subjects. 

Her findings were revolutionary at the time, discovering that chimpanzees were capable of complex thought, including making tools and developing social hierarchies.

Goodall also spoke of the work her organizations, the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program, have done in supporting local conservation efforts across the globe.. She also encouraged  audience members to have hope and take action, no matter how small it may seem..

“The reason that I’m traveling around is because so many people are losing hope, because of the mess we’re making of the planet, and if everybody loses hope, especially the youth, then we’re doomed,” said Dr. Goodall. “Every single one of them makes a difference, every single day. Some of us can make a big difference… but all of us can think about what we buy, what we eat, what we wear,… and that creates consumer pressure, which affects business.”

In 2002, Goodall was appointed a Messenger of Peace by the United Nations, and in 2004, Queen Elizabeth II knighted her as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. 

FIU was Goodall’s sixth stop on a spring speaking tour across North America.

“I haven’t been to this part in quite some time, and I felt it was time to come here, and I felt it was time to come here, and I felt the message I have to give is an important one for some people here to listen to,” said Goodall at a press conference prior to the event. 

“Although some of the people I’m thinking about probably wouldn’t listen to it, their children might.”

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