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Goodall visits campus

BY MICHELLE NGO | MARCH 11, 2014 5:00 AM

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Carver-Hawkeye Arena remained silent as the guest speaker began her lecture with a brief history behind unique greeting calls among chimpanzees. She then offered her own chimpanzee-like greeting call with “ooos” and “ahs.”

“Hello, I’m Jane Goodall,” she said at the end of the imitation call.

The audience laughed and cheered.

The University of Iowa Lecture Committee welcomed Goodall, best known for her study on the social behavior of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, to speak about her work Monday night.

Her visit has been about a year in the making and the committee’s largest event this year. The event was originally supposed to be held in the IMU Main Lounge but had to be changed to Carver-Hawkeye because of an anticipated 2,000 to 5,000 attendees.

“For a lot of people, she is a household name,” said Nathaniel Richmond, the event’s committee coordinator. “We got a massive in pouring of calls and emails from people trying to get guaranteed seats and realized that with the 1,000 seats the IMU Main Lounge had to offer, we would be turning away people by the masses. So we decided against that and moved it to the arena so everyone would have an opportunity to see her.”

At the event, Goodall said she has loved animals since the day she was born — just ask her mother, who found her in her bed at 1.5 years old with a hand full of earthworms.

“We humans aren’t the only beings on the planet with personalities, minds, and feelings,” Goodall said. “And there are other animals who share many of these attributes, and it makes us think about the ways we use and abuse other animals in our daily lives. Every single one of us makes an impact on this planet every single day.”

She now travels around 300 days a year, speaking about the dangers chimpanzees face, environmental conservation, and her hopes of making the Earth a better place. Goodall also speaks about her work for the Jane Goodall Institute, which helps fund research to protect chimpanzees and their habitats, and Roots and Shoots, a global environmental program for youth. 

“This is a great audience to hear not only where we’re coming from but also what the future can hold,” said James Enloe, the head of the UI Anthropology Department. “She’s not just preaching to those who already agree with her, but she’s reaching out to people who may not have thought about it enough but who are receptive to ideas, and that’s what universities are all about.”

Through her extensive observations beginning in 1960, she made the revolutionary discoveries of chimpanzees as toolmakers along with the animals being affectionate and altruistic beings with close family ties.

These findings also lead to further biological studies confirming chimpanzees and humans share 98.6 percent of the same genetic composition and have nearly identical brain structures.

Goodall’s work has earned her numerous awards, including the French Legion of Honor and the Medal of Tanzania.

And she could add another award to her list after the event. The University Lecture Committee presented Goodall with the Distinguished Lecturer Award in honor of her global work. 

“College students are about to go out in the world, and it’s the last chance to try to reach them if they haven’t already been reached,” Goodall said. “So try and help young people to understand the problems that people are facing around the world and they themselves may face when they go out of this sort of cozy area of academia and to the big, blind world.”


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