Jane Goodall’s Primate Life: A Journey Through the Jungle

In 1960, she began studying chimpanzees, notebook in hand—a long way from today’s computers and satellites. Jane Goodall reflects on 50 years of primate research, and the cast of characters she grew to love.

I remember them all so, so well. Goliath, who lost his alpha position when Mike, using his superior intelligence, learned to enhance his dominance displays by hitting and kicking empty four-gallon tin cans ahead of him. William, the clown, who once stole a blanket, dragged it up the hillside, then draped it over his head and felt around him like a child who has been blindfolded.

Is it really 50 years ago that I stepped ashore, for the first of who knows how many hundreds of times, onto the sandy beach of Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve, now Gombe National Park? Has half a century passed since I saw, for the first time, a wild chimpanzee feeding high in a palm tree? It seems almost impossible to believe.


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