Anthropologist Jane Goodall gave a talk at Rollins College about her research into the behavior of chimpanzees. The talk took place in the Alfond Sports Center. I arrived an hour or so early. There already was a huge line of people waiting outside to get in. Lauren Bradley, the PR Director at Rollins met me at a side door and she was gracious enough to help me find a seat with a good line of sight. The first two rows of the bleachers I decided to sketch from were reserved for the ushers and staff, so I sat in the third row and got to work.
Ushers were dressed in black and they had a meeting with the Fire Marshall before the doors opened. He wanted to be sure that everyone remained seated once they got inside. Student seating was in the bleachers across from me and of course VIP seating was up front on the floor of the basketball court. The doors opened and the crowd rushed in. Just about every seat in the cavernous room was filled. Footage of baby chimpanzees flashed on the screens.
Jane was announced and she stood at the podium with quiet dignity. She spoke with a sweet British accent as she recalled how she ended up pursuing her life's dream. Jane read, "Tarzan" as a child and she imagined herself in the exotic jungle setting. When she was even younger, she wondered how a chicken could lay an egg. There was no hole big enough! She sneaked into the hen house and waited there for about 14 hours. Her mom didn't know where Jane went, so she was sick with worry. Finally a hen layed an egg and Jane rushed to her mother to share the experience with her. To her mom's credit, she didn't chastise her daughter. When she saw the look of excitement and wonder in Jane's eyes, she put aside her worry and listened. When Jane first went to Gambe in what is now Tanzania, her mother joined her, and encouraged her, since it was close to impossible to find or get close to the primates in the beginning. Sadly her mother left right before the moment an alpha male chimpanzee accepted Jane. The rest of the chimps then decided that, if he accepted her, then she must not be a threat.
Jane encouraged everyone to go to see "Chimpanzee", a Disney nature documentary that opened in theaters April 20th. If you see “Chimpanzee” the week it opens—April 20-26, then for that one week only, Disney Nature will contribute 20 cents per ticket to the Jane Goodall Institute to protect wild chimpanzees. The funds will help, protect their home—the tropical forest, educate the next generation and Care for orphaned chimpanzees.
Jane spoke about how similar chimpanzee's are to humans. It was assumed, back when she began her research, than only humans used tools. She found that chimpanzees not only used tools, they created tools. Both chimps and humans display sorrow, grief, joy and paternal love. She was shocked to discover that, like humans, chimps have a dark side. Humans are better at spoken communication and yet they are destroying their own resources. The environment is being destroyed for the next generations. Jane began a program called Roots and Shoots, which encourages children and young adults that they can take steps to help make the world a better and more sustainable place to live.