Many years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to a dinner party with Jane Goodall. I can tell you that she is as lovely in person as she seems. I respect her even more for having met her than I did when I had only admiring her from afar. How did I rate this invitation? Well, I was one of the research assistants on her Chimpanzoo Project (yes, I spelled that correctly) back in the early nineties at the zoo I worked for. We followed Jane's strict guidelines and collected behavioral observations on our captive chimps for Jane and her field biologists to compare with the wild chimps. So, occasionally, she would come meet with the project coordinator, who also happened to be a mutual friend. Hence the invitation to dinner. I always looked forward to her visits, more to hear her speak about the chimps at the various fundraising presentations. She always had amazing stories and such a lovely way of making you feel like you could see and better understand the chimps through her eyes.
Nobody understands the behaviors, social structures, and cognitive abilities of chimps better than Jane. Not to mention all the work her Jane Goodall Institute continues to do, not only to better understand chimps, but to raise awareness and protect them and their wild habitat. Now, there is a really easy and fun way you can help Jane help the chimps. If you go out and see the new Disneynature film "Chimpanzee" before May 3rd, the proceeds will go to the Jane Goodall Institute. The movie sounds amazing. I plan to see it this weekend. The film crew happened upon an actual once in a lifetime story of a dominant male chimp, the leader of a troupe, who takes in and raises an orphaned youngster. This is something Jane says they have never seen happen before. But, don't listen to me. Watch her recent interview on the Daily Show, and let her tell you in her own words. Then, head out to a theater near you and see the movie!