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Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences$
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Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226569871

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.001.0001

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Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

She Dreamed of Tarzan

(p.211) 13 Jane Goodall
Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences

Dale Peterson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the extraordinary career of primatologist Jane Goodall, who was the first person in history to conduct a successful study of wild chimpanzees. It argues that Goodall's famous field work stems largely from a childhood affinity for non-human animals that was stimulated by regular reading of books about animals, particularly the Tarzan series. Jane Goodall the girl developed a strong and coherent fantasy--or "dream"--to be, in the style of Tarzan, intimate with animals. That dream led Jane Goodall as a young woman, trained as a secretary, with no college degree, to leave her home in England and go to Africa, where she introduced herself to the one person in a position to help her pursue the dream: the paleoanthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey. It was a serendipitous connection, and yet no one had successfully studied wild chimpanzees in part because there was no established protocol for doing so and in part because wild chimpanzees were imagined to be extremely dangerous. Goodall did what others had not done through her own courage, initiative, energy, and the focus brought about by that childhood dream. This chapter places Goodall's work in the context of mid-twentieth century zoology, ethology, and physical anthropology.

Keywords:   Jane Goodall, Louis Leakey, Tarzan, primates, chimpanzees, apes, primatology, zoology, paleoanthropology, ethology, physical anthropology

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