Dr. Jane’s favorite animal is a dog, although chimpanzees hold a special place in her heart.
The older chimpanzees that Dr. Jane spent time observing remember her but the younger ones do not. Some studies of chimpanzees in captivity have shown that chimpanzees can remember people after 11 years.
Dr. Jane first decided that she wanted to go to Africa to study animals and write books about them after reading “Dr. Dolittle” and “Tarzan of the Apes” as a child. To this day, Dr. Jane still believes that Tarzan married the wrong Jane!
When Dr. Jane was young, she knew that she wanted to live with animals in Africa and write books about them. She never dreamed of studying an animal as exotic as a chimpanzee.
Dr. Jane’s favorite chimpanzee of all time is David Greybeard, the one who first trusted her and allowed her to come close enough to observe him. Her favorite chimpanzee at Gombe today is a female named Gremlin who Dr. Jane has known since she was a newborn baby.
Dr. Jane had some many exciting experiences in Gombe. She was thrilled the first time a group of chimpanzees let her observe them instead of running away in fear. She was also amazed when she saw a chimpanzee she called David Greybeard make and use a tool. In those days, it was thought that only humans made and used tools. In this video, Dr. Jane talks about some of the other exciting experiences she had while conducting her research in the forests of Gombe.
In 1960, when Dr. Jane first began studying chimpanzees in the forests of what is now known as Gombe National Park, she felt like she was at home. Famous anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey was looking for someone to observe wild chimpanzees’ behavior in order to better understand how humans evolved. After meeting Dr. Jane, Dr. Leakey decided that she was just the person to take on this study.
Dr. Jane’s father’s name was Mortimer Herbert and her mother’s name was Margaret Myfanwe, but everyone called her Vanne.