April 3, 2017

Happy eighty-three, Jane Goodall!


“As I am not a defeatist, it only made my determination to succeed stronger. I never had any thought of quitting.”

So says Jane Goodall of long days she spent in the jungles of Tanzania, before she had gained acceptance into chimpanzee society. Goodall, who turns eighty-three today, is the world’s preeminent primatologist and conservationist, and her more than twenty-five books, numerous appearances in documentary film and TV, and years of activism have awakened homo sapiens to the intricate, dynamic, familiar lives being led by the species on earth most like us.

She has been a critical defender of science, decency, and ecological justice throughout her long career, and her contributions to what we know about this little mystery called life on planet earth can hardly be overstated. She is among the most admirable and accomplished members of the human species, and we’re lucky primates indeed to share the world with her.

Happy birthday, Dr. Goodall!

There are plenty of good ways to celebrate — you could watch this “60 Minutes” segment, or this TED talk, or this surprisingly awesome auto-tuned posse cut with Carl Sagan and David Attenborough. Especially highly recommended is this 1984 National Geographic special, “Among the Wild Chimpanzees,” which follows the story of some of Goodall’s early years:

After that, you’re gonna wanna go full John Oliver:

And this’ll do you no harm: