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Monday October 23, 2000

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Chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall returns

Headline Photo


Chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall holds up a feather from the endangered California Condor last night at the Tucson Convention Center during her presentation about the last 40 years of her chimpanzee research. The condor feather which she carries around with her is a symbol of hope for the future.

By Shana Heiser

Arizona Daily Wildcat

She talks about her chimp experiences with Tucson audience

David, a wild chimpanzee male, hesitantly took the banana from Jane Goodall's outstretched hand, symbolizing the end of his fleeing from Goodall and the beginning of a 40-year relationship.

The other chimpanzees soon followed David's lead and trusted Goodall, too.

"He was always less fearful than the others and more accepting," she said.

Goodall shared her firsthand experiences working with chimpanzees in front of a Tucson crowd of about 400 last night at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Goodall has studied chimpanzees since 1960, and she is now traveling 300 days out of the year. Her goal is to visit at least 40 places in one year, signifying the 40th anniversary of her research.

Although this first encounter with a chimpanzee was important, she said the real breakthrough came in the fifth month of her study in the African wild of what is now Tanzania. Goodall observed a chimpanzee using grass stems to fish termites from their underground nest.

"At that time, it was thought that humans, and only humans, could use and make tools," Goodall said. "We were described, when I was at school, as man, the tool maker."

Goodall's mission has evolved from living with chimpanzees to reaching out beyond her study in Gombe, Tanzania. She now wants to create hope among those who have her goal in mind: to save chimpanzees and make a difference in even a small way.

"She's made a landmark difference in universities across the world in primatology, anthropology, animal conservation and women's studies," said Jamie Gleason, Jane Goodall Institute board of trustees member. "She is a woman who profoundly touches the lives of those she meets and gently inspires them."

The Reason for Hope, one of Goodall's latest projects, aims to make the public aware of the institute's goals, asks for public support and raises funds for programs.

Goodall outlined four reasons to have hope: "The human brain, the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit and the tremendous energy and commitment of young people."

She carries several reminders of hope with her, such as a leaf from a tree that survived the Nagasaki atomic bomb explosion, a four-fingered surgical glove of a motivated surgeon who overcame the loss of his thumbs to pursue his dream, and a feather Goodall called "highly illegal" from a California condor, an almost-extinct bird whose numbers have multiplied from 14 to 40 in recent years.

"I was told never to say who gave it to me," she said as the audience erupted into laughter. "I found it."

Flo was close to 50 when her dead chimpanzee body was found close to a stream. Her son, Flint, was eight-and-a-half years old and had a "strange, abnormal dependency" on his mother, Goodall said, and became extremely depressed and stopped interacting with other chimpanzees.

"He fell sick, and within about six weeks of losing his mother, Flint died as well," Goodall said.

She showed slides and shared anecdotes about all her chimpanzee friends in action to draw in the audience.

"She has the ability to reach out and pull you in and make it clear she needs all of our help to save endangered species," said Kimmey Hardesty, a biology junior. "I think she did an incredible job relating to the audience one-to-one."

The University of Arizona was represented by students and faculty, many of whom talked to Hardesty after the slide show.

"I had quite a few UA students come up and ask about ChimpanZoo," she said. "They were definitely curious."

Hardesty is a volunteer at ChimpanZoo, an affiliate of the Jane Goodall Institute, which has its headquarters in Tucson.

The gathering of people in Tucson represented the gathering of people across America who study chimpanzees and who have been touched by Goodall, Gleason said.

"This woman has inspired an entire generation," Gleason said.