Jane Goodall has been in the news quite a bit lately, and trust me–she’s one of the coolest girls around. This nature crusader was trailblazer and a rule breaker back in the day when being an independent single girl wasn’t the norm!
When her parents split up, Jane lived with her mom on the coast of England, but she still adored her father, who may have sparked her love of primates. You know how when you were little and found something you loved a lot and were great at, like singing, drawing, or sports? Jane Goodall’s love of animals started similarly. Her dad gave her a toy chimp that she still owns today, which may have planted the seed for her love for the animals–but she also was raised with a ton of pets that she adored and loved climbing trees and reading–especially Tarzan books!.
Before becoming the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Jane Goodall worked normal jobs like you to save up for her dreams–she went to London to become a secretary, then returned to her hometown as a waitress in order to earn money for her first trip to Africa, visiting a friend who’d moved to Kenya. She did this when she was 23 years old, which was almost unheard of back then! She became a secretary again, this time for Louis Leakey, a paleontologist in the area–she was so excited to chat with him about animals, and he secretly happened to be looking for a chimpanzee researcher. Was this stuff written in the stars or what?
Eventually, Louis Leakey and his wife, Mary, asked Jane to accompany them in what’s now Tanzania and proposed that she help then study chimps. They sent her to school back in London to prepare, then in 1960, when Jane Goodall was 25, sent Jane out into the wild–but there was a catch. It was considered “improper” for Jane to travel alone, so her mom came along for the trip. While that sounds super lame and annoying, Jane didn’t actually mind so much at the time, since she and her mom were tight–don’t we wish it was always that way!.
The trip wasn’t easy, though. Imagine sleeping in a tent with your mom for four months. Then imagine snakes, wild animals, and getting malaria (with no medicine to treat it). Yikes! These are just a few of the things Jane Goodall dealt with in order to pursue her passion and to eventually become the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, living and working with them for 45 years!
Thanks to Jane Goodall (and other awesome trailblazing ladies!), you can travel anywhere you want without someone wagging a finger at you telling you it’s unladylike–and you can also get involved with the environment, animals, and your community with Roots & Shoots, Jane’s youth organization. She’s also one of the driving forces behind the movie Chimpanzee, which hits theaters on Earth Day. You can catch the trailer below!
Did you discover your passion at a young age like Jane Goodall? Do you have a favorite animal? Would you ever spend time in the wild? Tell us in the comments!