After more than 50 years as an animal rights crusader, Jane Goodall is a household name — but she's not resting on her laurels. Gooodall came to P.E.I. Sunday and Monday for two sold-out speaking engagements, promoting her new anti-animal trafficking campaign #StandWithJane. 

It was her groundbreaking research as a young anthropologist working with chimpanzees and living alongside them in the forests of Africa that shed new light on the human relationship to primates. Now she hopes to restore animal populations on the brink of extinction through social activism. 

'We need money to live — it goes wrong when we live for money.' — Jane Goodall

"Elephants will vanish soon if the trafficking doesn't stop," Goodall told Mainstreet P.E.I.'s Natalia Goodwin. 

"Sign up, and the more people sign on to an initiative, then maybe this gets through to governments and gets through to individuals," Goodall said, noting there's an increasing number of animal products that are trafficked illegally including rhino horn.

"It's not too late," to help protect animals including African grey parrots — popular as pets and frequently trafficked — which, with Goodall's help, has just been given extra international protection. 

Successes like that are usually quickly tempered by the realization that many other species are going to disappear, Goodall said.

"Wild animals belong in the wild or in sanctuaries," she concludes. 

Wild animals are very difficult to keep physically and mentally healthy, she said, adding, "There are so many people who aren't even good dog owners."

Living her dream

"My dream was to live with wild animals and write books about them," Goodall said, admitting her first love was dogs, because of her first dog, Rusty.

Young Jane Goodall

Over a half century ago, a young Jane Goodall bravely left home for Gombe National Park, Tanzania. (National Geographic)

But an opportunity arose to study chimpanzees in the forests of Africa, she jumped at it — a decision she's never regretted.

"What an amazing opportunity it was," she said. "Chimpanzees are so like us in so many ways that it enabled me to help people understand that we are part of the animal kingdom and not separated from it."

Animals are people too

Goodall believes animals have emotions and feel pain much the same as humans do. That's one reason she long ago rejected meat for a plant-based diet. She said it benefits the planet by wasting less water and fuel.  

Jane Goodall

Living near and interacting with wild chimpanzees in Africa 'gave me a special bond with them' says Jane Goodall.

Eating meat "is symbolizing fear, pain, death. I don't want to eat that!" 

At the same time, she prefers a gentle approach to extreme activism, she said.

"If you're extreme with someone, they tend to stop listening to you. They feel you're attacking them, they become defensive," Goodall said.

"You need to get to the heart, and the best way is by telling stories," she advises. 

Inspiring youth

Goodall's main message is that everyone can choose to help by living more sustainably.
 
"We need money to live — it goes wrong when we live for money," she said, and she believes more youth are coming to this conclusion. 

With files from Natalia Goodwin