Dr. Jane Goodall — The Legend, The Lessons, The Hope (#421)

Photo by Vincent Calmel

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall (@JaneGoodallInst) was born on April 3rd, 1934, in London, England. At the young age of 26, she followed her passion for animals and Africa to Gombe, Tanzania, where she began her landmark study of chimpanzees in the wild,­ immersing herself in their habitat as a neighbor rather than a distant observer. Her discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools rocked the scientific world and redefined the relationship between humans and animals.

In 1977, she established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to advance her work around the world and for generations to come. JGI continues the field research at Gombe and builds on Dr.  Goodall’s innovative approach to conservation, which recognizes the central role that people play in the well-being of animals and the environment. In 1991, she founded Roots & Shoots, a global program that empowers young people in nearly 60 countries to act as the informed conservation leaders that the world so urgently needs.

Today, Dr. Goodall travels the world, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, environmental crises, and her reasons for hope. In her books and speeches, she emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living things and the collective power of individual action. Dr. Goodall is a UN Messenger of Peace and Dame Commander of the British Empire.

The next chapter of Dr. Jane Goodall’s life’s work unfolds in a brand-new documentary, Jane Goodall: The Hope, premiering on Earth Day, April 22nd, at 9E/8C on Nat Geo, Nat Geo WILD, and Nat Geo Mundo. The two-hour special takes viewers through the chapters of Dr. Goodall’s journey in the 60 years since her groundbreaking discoveries researching wild chimpanzees in Gombe, including her activism, creation of her non-profit organization, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), and Roots & Shoots youth program, along with her current efforts to inspire the next generation.

Dr. Goodall’s work through the Jane Goodall Institute is advanced through the generous support of people like you and me. To show your support, visit janegoodall.org/tim. 

Please enjoy! 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

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#421: Dr. Jane Goodall — The Legend, The Lessons, The Hope


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode with someone who’s thinking big to save the planet? Make sure to check out my conversation with Mike Phillips, in which we discuss the countless benefits (and dispel countless myths) of reintroducing predator species to ecosystems where they’ve been eradicated. 


  • Connect with The Jane Goodall Institute:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  • Connect with Roots & Shoots:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • Why is Dr. Goodall grateful for growing up during WWII? [08:27]
  • Was Dr. Goodall’s childhood affinity for animals shared by other members of her family? How did her mother encourage curiosity where less patient parents might have done the opposite? [11:16]
  • Dr. Goodall describes instances of her mother’s uncanny intuition, her own experience with what some might deem “supernatural,” and what she sees as her next big adventure. [14:16]
  • About that time in March of 1957 when Dr. Goodall lost her passport — and almost her entire hard-earned savings — just prior to leaving for Africa. [17:04]
  • How Dr. Goodall connected with legendary paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, serendipitously became his secretary, and was set on the path to studying chimpanzees in the wild. [19:21]
  • How did Dr. Goodall come to be accepted among the chimpanzees she was observing, and what did she feel the first time she was able to look deeply into a chimpanzee’s eyes? [22:56]
  • What groundbreaking observations were made by Dr. Goodall at this time that changed our understanding of chimpanzee behavior, habits, and intelligence? [26:35]
  • On primate personalities, compassion, and the uplifting story of the time Lion Country Safari keeper Marc Cusano was saved by a chimpanzee known as Old Man. [27:33]
  • What did observing compassion among chimpanzees as well as the violence of the ’74–’78 Gombe Chimpanzee War lead Dr. Goodall to infer about human nature? [31:08]
  • How does Dr. Goodall explain the variance in attitude among chimpanzees — what makes some ruthlessly vie for dominance through physical force and others take a more subtle approach? [33:15]
  • After many decades of observation — of not just chimpanzees but humans — where does Dr. Goodall currently stand on thinking about human nature, and what is she doing to try and steer young people toward being better stewards of the planet than the generations that came before? [36:50]
  • Why COVID-19 is really just a symptom of a much larger series of problems society needs to face if it wants to be sustainable. [41:36]
  • Dr. Goodall takes us back to the founding of the Roots & Shoots youth program in 1991 to explain what values and skills it aims to instill in future generations. [44:41]
  • How does Dr. Goodall cultivate the hope necessary for overcoming apathy — what she has called “the greatest danger to our future?” [49:54]
  • Who was Mr. McGregor, how did he meet his end, and what did Dr. Goodall take away from the experience? [55:37]
  • Stories that Dr. Goodall has found particularly effective for reaching the heart and grabbing the attention of people — particularly policymakers — who she meets in her travels, and why you should always be prepared to tell stories about what’s important to you no matter where you are. [1:01:35]
  • Dr. Goodall has been an inspiration to people around the world for decades. But who inspires her, and how does a mysterious figure by the name of Mr. H enter the picture? What other symbols does she collect, and why? [1:07:30]
  • Does Dr. Goodall still have Jubilee, the stuffed chimpanzee her father gave her when she was a toddler? [1:11:00]
  • How did the way Dr. Goodall’s own mother raised her and the observation of chimpanzee mothers in the wild influence her own parenting style? [1:12:16]
  • How did Jane’s son get the nickname of “Grub?” [1:14:55]
  • Was it a culture shock for Grub to go from Nairobi, where he grew up, to England for school? [1:16:02]
  • Dr. Goodall seems very comfortable spending long periods of time alone. How does she relate to such solitude? [1:17:39]
  • As an 86-year-old who seems to work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day (with a dog walk in the middle), to what does Dr. Goodall attribute the maintenance of her mental clarity, sharpness, and endurance for such a long period of time? [1:20:13]
  • Why does Dr. Goodall think some of her fans get such an emotional charge out of meeting her? [1:25:00]
  • You might not be able to teach your children to be optimistic, but here’s what Dr. Goodall learned about optimism from her own childhood, and how her mother encouraged her without promising that achieving her dreams would be easy. [1:27:57]
  • What would be on Dr. Goodall’s billboard? [1:29:13]
  • Information on where Dr. Goodall’s new documentary, This is Jane Goodall: The Hope is airing on Earth Day, and parting thoughts. [1:30:07]