National Geographic: Among the Wild Chimpanzees


For centuries there were

fearsome tales of a half

human monster roaming

the African forests

Even in modern times,

knowledge of the elusive creature

the wild chimpanzee-

was largely based on speculation

Then, in 1960 a daring

young Englishwoman

set out to sort fiction from truth

She had been warned

"You'll never get

near the chimpanzees,"

but she was determined to try

Her name, Jane Goodall

She was 26 years old and

destined to make scientific history

Against odds many

thought insurmountable

she gradually earned

the chimpanzees' trust

The picture that has

emerged is an awesome

portrait of the animals

most like man

The similarities to humans are


the obvious physical resemblance;

the discovery that they hunt and eat meat;

the even more profound revelation

that they are intelligent enough

to make and use tools

and in their nonverbal communication

perhaps the most uncanny

resemblance of all

Meticulously documented on

motion-picture film

Jane Goodall's classic study stretches

from 1960 to the present day

A compelling chronicle that spans

three generations of chimps

it is the longest study of any wild

animal group in the world

Unexpectedly one of its recent

chapters took a forbidding turn

The usually gentle

amiable chimps revealed a dark

and sinister side

- puzzling, savage behavior

as yet unexplained

And so the saga goes on -

the remarkable adventure of the wild

chimpanzees and the dedicated

woman who works among them still

Growing up in Bournemouth,

England, Jane Goodall

was drawn to the world of animals

almost from the start

When her mother gave

the infant a chimp doll

outraged friends predicted nightmares

They could not have been more wrong

"Even when I was very tiny I was

absolutely fascinated by animals

I think I first began to dream of

going to Africa after reading

Dr. Doolittle and Tarzan

when I was about eight

I was absolutely fascinated with

the idea of being out in the jungle

out with the animals

feeling a part of it all."

Famed anthropologist Louis Leakey

had long searched for someone

to study wild chimpanzees for

clues to the behavior of early man

"I want someone unbiased

by academic learning," he said

"Someone with uncommon patience

and dedication."

His faith in Jane Goodall would

lead to one of the most important

scientific studies of our time

Her journey would take Goodall to

the East African country of Tanzania

then known as Tanganyika

The remote Gombe Stream Game

Reserve stretches for about

ten miles of rugged

mountainous country along the

shore of Lake Tanganyika

And so on the 14th of July 1960

Jane Goodall was 4,000 miles from home

a tiny boat her only link

to the civilized world

"When I arrived at the

Gombe Stream Reserve

I felt that at long last my childhood

ambition was being realized

But when I looked at the wild and

rugged mountains where

the chimpanzees lived

I knew that my task was not going to be easy."

Day-to-day life in this remote

wilderness would be difficult at best

The local authorities

horrified at the thought of a young

white woman alone in the wild

at first refused Jane

permission to come

agreeing only when she said she would

bring a companion

Aside from her mother

Vanne Goodall, and an African cook

Jane would spend the next

several months virtually alone

It was already late afternoon

when the tents were pitched and

provisions stored

But after 20 years of dreaming

of this day

Jane was eager to begin

Unarmed and untrained she

ventured into a strange, new world

For most, this would be a lonely

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: Among the Wild Chimpanzees" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 19 Jan. 2021. <>.

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