Conservation and Biodiversity

Jane Goodall reminds us of love and compassion amid the coronavirus pandemic

In 1960, a 26-year-old woman without a college degree went to Tanzania to study chimpanzees in the wild.

Sixty years later, acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall is still hard at work.

Over the last century, chimpanzees in the wild have dwindled in number from 1 million to as few as 340,000. Goodall has spent her career fighting for protection from this extinction, as well as their exploitation.

But through her research, Goodall showed us so much more than the need to preserve a species — she showed us the similarities between chimpanzees and humans.  

“I came to understand how like us they are,” said Goodall in an interview with the New York Times last year. “I’d seen them using tools and making tools, and it was clear they had emotions like happiness, sadness, fear. That they had a dark and brutal side, but also love, compassion, altruism.”

Over her career, Goodall has received countless honors, being made a Dame of the British Empire, appointed a United Nations Messenger of Peace and named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2019.

Recently, Goodall weighed in on the coronavirus pandemic. The virus, which originated in animals, more easily spreads when humans destroy wildlife habitats and sell, buy and consume wildlife in illegal markets. 

“Many species of animals and plants have become extinct,” she said in a video message. “And our too-close relationship with wild animals in the markets or when we use them for entertainment, has unleashed the terror and misery of new viruses.”

But amid these challenges, Goodall reminded us of our humanity. 

“We’re capable of love and compassion for each other,” she said. “Let us also show love and compassion for the animals who are with us on this planet. Let us all live in peace and harmony together.”

To learn more, check out Earth Day Network’s conservation and biodiversity program to learn how you can help preserve our planet.

Photo at top: UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodal addresses a Student Observance of the International Day of Peace. Photo credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider