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Fifty years ago this week, at the age of 26, renowned primatologist Jane Goodall traveled to Tanzania for the first time to study chimpanzees in the wild.


The six-month trip marked the start of what would become her life's work: studying and protecting chimpanzees.

Deeply Devoted

Years of field work with chimpanzees followed that first expedition, when Goodall became the first person to document behaviors previously considered to be unique to humans, including the chimpanzees’ use of tools.


She went on to earn a doctorate in ethology—the scientific study of animal behavior—and later founded the Jane Goodall Institute and became a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Goodall has received dozens of awards and honors for her work, including the Joseph Wood Krutch medal from The Humane Society of the United States in 1988, which recognizes "an individual who has made a significant contribution toward the improvement of life and the environment."

Arguably the world's foremost expert on chimpanzee behavior, she currently devotes nearly all of her time to protecting the animals and their environment and, at age 76, travels more than 300 days a year.

Outspoken Advocate

While Goodall is best known as a spokesperson for chimpanzees in the wild, she has also actively advocated for chimpanzees in laboratories.

In 2009, following The HSUS' undercover investigation into the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, she issued a statement that said in part, "In no lab I have visited have I seen so many chimpanzees exhibit such intense fear. The screaming I heard when chimpanzees were being forced to move toward the dreaded needle in their squeeze cages was, for me, absolutely horrifying."

At the 2005 World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in Berlin, Goodall signed a resolution calling for an end to the use of chimpanzees and other primates in biomedical research and testing.

She is a supporter of the passage of the Great Ape Protection Act, which would phase out harmful research on chimpanzees in laboratories and retire the approximately 500 federally owned chimpanzees to permanent sanctuary.

And Goodall he has spoken out against the use of chimpanzees as pets and their use in entertainment.

In addition to her work with chimpanzees, Goodall has advocated for a number of other animal welfare issues. These include endorsing the ballot measure campaigns to ban mourning dove hunting in Michigan and inhumane factory farming practices in California, and advocating in Congress for the Bear Protection Act and other animal protection legislation.

Action for Animals

Animals around the world are fortunate to have such a compelling and influential advocate as Jane Goodall.

You can help honor her 50 years of dedication to animal welfare—and chimpanzees in particular—in one of the following ways:

  • Ask your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Great Ape Protection Act. Take action »


  • Rescue nine chimps from life in a research lab—urge New Iberia Research Center to send a group of five adults and four infant chimpanzees to a sanctuary rather than use them in potentially harmful research. Take action »

  • Volunteer your time, resources or money to a chimpanzee sanctuary. Take action


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