A Chronological Look at the Life of Jane Goodall

Written by  Elizabeth LeReverend June 17, 2009

1-year-old Jane makes her first acquaintance with a chimp—a stuffed toy named Jubilee. Adults predict that it will probably scare her but it becomes her favourite toy.

3 years old: Jane is discovered in her bed with a bunch of earthworms.  Jane and her mother decide that the best place for an animal is its natural environment.

5 years old: Police are notified because Jane has gone missing.  Hours later, she bursts out of the hen-house having finally discovered that chickens have holes big enough for an egg to come out of.

10 years old:  Jane reads all of the animal books she can get her hands on.  She develops a crush on Tarzan and is convinced that he would be far better off with her than with his ridiculous girlfriend, Jane.

18 years old: Jane graduates from high school and dreams of going to Africa to study wild animals. Unfortunately, at the time, the only way to go to Africa is to receive a scholarship.  The only way to win a scholarship is to excel at languages, something she does not.  Instead, she works as a waitress and as a secretary, and saves up all her wages to pay for a trip.

23 years old: Jane's big break comes when a friend living in Kenya invites her to visit Africa.  She has finally saved enough money for the trip and accepts immediately.  Once there, she meets world-famous paleontologist, Dr. Louis Leaky.  He hires her on the spot to replace his secretary who has just left him.

26 years old: Dr. Leaky, impressed with Jane's knowledge of African wildlife, hires her to conduct a brief study of chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania.  The British authorities try to put a stop to this, saying that it's preposterous for a young English woman to stay by herself in the African forest.  So Jane invites her mom to come stay with her.

Some months later, she rocks the scientific community when she discovers that like us, chimps use tools.  Suddenly, the whole world is paying attention to her groundbreaking work.

41 years old:  Fifteen years later, the "brief study" in Gombe is still going on and Dr. Goodall establishes the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Conservation and Education to help fund continued work there.

52 years old: While graduate students from around the world continue the research at Gombe, Dr. Goodall travels the world telling people about the plight of chimps and informing them about environmental issues.

Today, at 69 years of age, Jane is still travelling the world, speaking out about our responsibility to protect the earth. Since 1986, she has not stayed in the same place for longer than three weeks.


Return to the main article, The Irrepressible Dr. Jane Goodall.

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