When a young Jane Goodall entered the forests of Gombe back in 1960, the world knew very little about chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and even less about their unique genetic kinship to humans. Aged just 26, with no formal scientific training, Jane therefore took an unorthodox approach with her field research. She immersed herself in chimpanzee habitat and in their lives to experience their complex society as a neighbour rather than a distant observer and came to understand them not only as a species, but also as individuals with emotions and long-term bonds.
Jane’s discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools is considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship. Jane gained her PhD in ethology (the study of animal behaviour) at Cambridge University in 1965.
Dr Goodall’s field research redefined the relationship between humans and animals in ways that still continue to emanate around the world. Today the Gombe Stream Research Centre is a living laboratory, home to the world’s most studied group of chimpanzees in the wild.