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Here’s to Jane Goodall!

She’s 90 years old and still going strong.


She’s 90 years old and still looking ahead.


Dame Jane Morris Goodall was born on April 3, 1934. She has been studying chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania since 1960. It’s possible that her career started when her father gave her a stuffed toy chimpanzee (named Jubilee) as an alternative to a teddy bear.


We’re writing this immediately following this month’s total eclipse of the sun and we bet you’re already wondering what astronomy and primatology have in common.

It’s wonder.


And science.


Tens of millions of people witnessed the celestial phenomena on April 8, when the moon briefly blocked out the sun, turned day to night, and made us all gawk in amazement.


Think of the millions and millions of photographs taken of the think of the money spent to travel and stay within the “path of totality” for those who wanted to witness the event in person.


The one word that popped up more and more in coverage of the eclipse was “awe.” Hard to argue with that. An eclipse is quirky, fascinating, and mind-blowing all at once.


But figuring out how the universe is constructed, and how the galaxies and planets all move, started with basics of science.




How does it work? What’s our relationship to the moon? How does the Earth fit with the sun? And beyond?


That scientists predicted the eclipse this week down to the second is science. That the eclipse followed the precise anticipated path of totality is science. (And scientists have been predicting eclipses for 300 years.)


And we don’t think it’s much of a stretch to see Jane Goodall’s lifelong study of chimpanzees as the same kind of science:


Who are you? Where did you come from? Do we belong to you? Do you belong to us?


It all starts with awe and wonder.


Said Goodall, “In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.”


That kind of pure empathy, coupled with a relentless curiosity, led Goodall to become one of the premiere primatologists and anthropologists of our generation.


And now, according to an article in the New York Times, Goodall is preparing an “immersive spectacle called “Dr. Jane’s Dream” that will celebrate her career and her activism. It’s expected to open on July 14, 2025, “World Chimpanzee Day” and 65 years after Goodall, then a novice researcher chaperoned by her mother, started working in the Gombe forest alongside legendary anthropologist Louise Leakey. She had no college degree, no real training in the field, but had one powerful trait: determination. (Here is quick six-minute overview of those early days on YouTube.)


Goodall’s observations of chimpanzees, up close, changed the course of inquisition about chimpanzees. She discovered that chimps used tools and were not, as previously believed, purely vegetarian. Her legacy needs no burnishing from us. Her activism has supported many causes around the world, all on behalf of improving protections for the planet and the species we share it with. 


“Dr. Jane’s Dream” will be constructed at the Arusha Cultural Heritage Center in Tanzania. It will revolve “deep storytelling,” said the Times article, and will be designed to encourage visitors to investigate “like an adventure,” said Goodall in a recent interview.


One of the designers said the project will be set up to take “all the feelings and emotions that made Jane Goodall Jane Goodall and transfer that into a series of objects and encounters.”


Yes, science begins with awe and wonder. Even feelings.


We’re proud to say that Anatomy in Clay® Learning System founder Jon Zahourek has had several conversations over the years with Goodall and has contributed frequently to her institute.


Here’s to Jane and her dedication, determination, and her sense of awe and wonder.


May it lead to many more budding scientists continuing to ask questions and observe, whether it’s studying a distant galaxy or one of our fellow creatures right here on Earth.






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