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Happy 80th Birthday Jane Goodall!
April 3, 2014
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George with Jane Goodall after a 2012 interview

Today, the world-renowned primatologist, environmentalist and passionate animal advocate Jane Goodall turns 80.

At 80, most of us would be well into retirement. But Goodall, one of the most frequent visitors to the red chair over the years, shows no sign of slowing down.

Goodall's landmark primate research began in 1960, when in her mid-20s she moved to Tanzania and began studying the behaviour of chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park. Although she had little formal training when she started, her work with the Kasakela chimpanzee community in Gombe, which continued until 1986, helped revolutionize our understanding of our closest living relatives.

Before her work, most researchers had assumed that humans were the only animals to use tools. But in Gombe, Goodall observed one chimp, which she named David Greybeard, poking at the ground to get at a colony of ants below the surface. She also documented chimps eating meat, overturning the widely held belief that they were vegetarians. More controversially, Goodall argued that like humans, chimps had personalities and emotions, a view that met with strong opposition at the time.

In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute to help support her research. It eventually became a platform for a wide range of wildlife and conservation initiatives, from efforts to preserve and expand chimpanzee habitats in Tanzania to Roots and Shoots, which brings together youth from around the world to work on environmental issues. In this JGI video, Goodall helps release a chimpanzee called Wounda into the forests of Tchindzoulou Island, one of three islands that make up JGI's sanctuary in Congo:

As part the celebrations for Goodall's birthday, the institute is hosting a live Google Hangout at 2 p.m. ET today. You can ask her questions using the hashtag #80yearsofjane on Google+, Facebook or Twitter, and watch the Hangout live here:

During her most recent appearance on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, Goodall spoke with George about everything from animal consciousness to the ivory trade to her fellow primatologist Dian Fossey.

And during her previous visit, she told us about her Defining Moment: the experience in 1986 that convinced her to leave fieldwork for life as an activist.


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