Sunday, November 20, 2016

Finding life's passion by Dr. Jane Goodall

Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, often greeted her audiences at talks with a chimpanzee greeting.

Goodall, who is also the United Nation Messenger of Peace, thrilled her audiences in Kuala Lumpur recently with the same greeting, saying, "a sound probably never heard in this place before,". 

Her sold-out talk, Finding Life's Passion, was presented by Roots & Shoots Malaysia, a youth programme founded by Goodall. This was her second visit to Malaysia.

Goodall also introduced to the audiences two soft toys that she carried in her travel - a monkey named Mr. H and a cow named Cow. 

She relates how she travels more than 300 days a year to promote conservation and animal rights around the world. That's quite remarkable considering that she is 82 (and still looking good)! 

For over an hour, she recalled her childhood of being curious about animals to living in Africa where her research of chimpanzee behaviour suggested similarities between the animal and human, thus changing the belief of scientific world at that time. 

She credited her mother for nurturing her passion and supporting her. Goodall recalled a trip to the countryside with her family when she was a child. She hides in the henhouse for hours to see how the hens lay their eggs and was not aware that her family was looking for her. When she returned to her house later, her mother sat down to listen to her story instead of scolding her when she saw the excitement in her daughter's eyes. "A different kind of mother would have crushed that early scientific curiosity."

She decided to focus on conservation work after attending a conference in 1986 where she saw how the destruction of forest in Africa and the hunting of chimpanzee for meat and scientific research were threatening the survival of the animals. "I went to that conference as a scientist and left as an activist," she said. 

At the end of her talk, she showed a video of how a chimpanzee named Wounda hugged her after being released back to the jungle. It's so touching! 

Root & Shoots is a youth-led community action programme under the Jane Goodall Institute. It has expanded to 130 countries with over 150,000 members. The programme is led within the country and the project undertaken depend on the problems in the country.