Meeting Chimpanzee’s Greatest Champion Jane Goodall

When I received my invitation to attend Disneynature’s Chimpazee red carpet premier, and finally calmed down enough to read it without jumping up and down, one name caught my eye — Jane Goodall. I was going to meet Jane Goodall. Wow. To a girl who has always had a passion for being green, meeting a conservation icon such as Jane Goodall is fall-out-of-your-seat exciting!

When the time came to interview Jane Goodall, I actually nervous. I was determined to ask the perfect question, which I was sure would get the perfect response. I even polled my readers for ideas about what to ask. I didn’t take this opportunity lightly. After much thought and careful preparation, I knew what I would ask. I wanted to hear from the woman who lived among the chimpanzees what she thought about those who kept them as pets.

Jane Goodall

As these things go, all my careful planning went out the window when she touched briefly on the topic in answer to someone else’s question. Oh shoot, now what?! Deciding that the very serious and mild-mannered woman before me would not think a question about Big Foot’s existence funny (although I thought it was a funny suggestion), I decided to ask about her passion for chimpanzees. Running out of time, and not feeling totally prepared (having preped a different idea) I asked, “When working with the chimps, how do you not become overly attached to the chimpanzees you study?”

Remember I mentioned that I was sure whatever I asked she would have the perfect answer. She did. And my question prompted the funniest response of the day.

Well, what do you mean by “overly attached?” Can we have empathy with them? Yes, we can. If one gets sick, we try to — to help it. There’s a misconception that a scientist must be cold and objective to be a good scientist, and that’s absolutely… not true. I nearly said a bad word. But it’s absolutely not true. And I know from fact that you can, if you have your mind disciplined — and discipline is really important — you can watch something which makes your heart weep. You can have tears streaming down your face.  That does not stop you making an objective account of what’s happened.

The words don’t do the moment justice. The soft-spoken, patron of the chimps nearly said a bad word. And her reaction was adorable. It underlined her passion for these beautiful creatures. A passion that has driven her work for the past 50+  years.  Is she emotionally attached to chimpanzees absolutely, and that attachment is part of what has fueled her conservation efforts.

During our interview, Jane Goodall had so many quotable things to say about conservation. My favorite being, “We haven’t inherited this planet from our parents but borrowed it from our children.  We have to admit that’s wrong.  We’ve been stealing it from our children. We have to get together. We have to care about conservation.

And regarding those who keep chimps as pets. Goodall was asked about the biggest misconception regarding chimpanzees. Her answer was, “That they remain nice and cute and sweet.  That they make wonderful pets.  I think those are, for them, the worst misconceptions.”

It was but a brief moment with chimpanzee’s greatest champion, but as I shook her hand and thanked her for her time I looked into her eyes and knew that this was a moment I will always remember. And I will always giggle when I think that I almost made Jane Goodall say a bad word.

Jane Goodall

Disnenature’s Chimpanzee opens April 20, 2012 and a portion of the ticket sales from the first week will support the Jane Goodall  Institute to help look after baby chimps like Oscar. Want to know more about what ticket sales will support? In her own words, this is what Jane Goodall said about the organization, “We put a sanctuary with over 150 orphan chimps whose mothers were killed in the bush meat trade. And it’s very expensive, looking after them, and right now we’re struggling to get the funds to prepare the big island in the middle of the river. Which will make a safe place for the adults, for some of our orphans and our full-grown. And they’re very smart. They learn how to escape, and that’s dangerous for them, and it’s very dangerous for our staff. So it’s a bit desperate. We need to raise this money.”

See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzees.

Disclosure – I was invited to a attend Chimpanzee premiere blogger event, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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