PROFILE: Jane Goodall

Part of the Biodiversity Crisis Curriculum Collection.

Jane Goodall in Gombe National Park in Tanzania, East Africa. Photo courtesy of Ken Regan/Camera 5.

Dr. Jane Goodall’s path-breaking African field studies of chimpanzee social behavior forever changed the way we view our closest evolutionary relatives. By causing her readers to empathize with the wild chimpanzees she got to know on an almost personal basis, Dr. Goodall provided a compelling moral argument for allowing these intelligent primates to flourish in their natural habitats.

Among her many other conservation activities, Dr. Goodall has created an organization called Roots & Shoots. Roots & Shoots is a symbolic name. “Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation,” Dr. Goodall says. “Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots and shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. You can change the world.” Today, as members of Roots & Shoots, thousands of children in more than forty-eight countries are planting trees, protecting species, and otherwise working to improve the environment.

This is an excerpt from THE BIODIVERSITY CRISIS: LOSING WHAT COUNTS, edited by Michael J. Novacek, a publication of the New Press. © 2000 American Museum of Natural History. To order the book, call 1-800-233-4830.