Sunday, October 06, 2002

Goodall follows exhibit back to city

Renowned scientist marking debut of interactive Imax display

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jane Goodall returns to Cincinnati for the first time in nearly a decade this week to mark the U.S. premiere of an interactive exhibit linked to a new Imax film about her work and to speak in Xavier University's Cintas Center at a benefit for the Museum Center and Cincinnati Zoo

A portrait of Jane Goodall and one of her chimps hangs on display at Museum Center.
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        The world's most famous primatologist - arguably the most famous scientist in any discipline -will also meet donors, journalists and students before heading to COSI in Columbus, where the film Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees opens next, after visiting Charlotte, N.C., and Geneva, Switzerland, all within a week.

        She has a succinct description for her schedule - “A nightmare,” she said by phone during a stop in Boston. “I don't know how I do it. No time for jet lag. If I had to worry about jet lag, I literally couldn't do what I'm doing.”

        She travels more than 300 days a year, campaigning to save endangered species and habitat and teaching the next generation to care for the natural world.

        “Jane Goodall is the only person who is a household name in the history of wildlife studies,” said Thane Maynard vice president of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens Foundation.

  Jane Goodall Lecture
• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cintas Center, Xavier University, 1624 Herald Ave.
• Tickets: $5-$40 at Ticketmaster outlets, 513-562-4949, and online at
• Information: 745-3411;
  Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees
• Oct. 12-Feb. 14.
• Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave.
• Film: As many as 11 screenings daily, seven days a week.
• Admission: $4.75-$6.75
• 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
• Admission: $4.75-$6.75.
• Information: 287-7000, 800-733-2077;
        “The significance of her work over 30 years really cannot be exaggerated,” he said, citing her discovery of primate social structure and studies of chimpanzee behavior, which “played a huge role, not just in wildlife biology, but all the way to human nature, learning how social creatures live together.”

        More important, Mr. Maynard said, “I can think of nobody who more effectively combines leading with the heart and with the mind and with the hands than Jane Goodall. ... Her willingness at pushing-70-years-old to go at a pace - a presidential candidate would be exhausted. ... She's a remarkable world citizen.”

        When she arrived on the shore of Africa's Lake Tanganyika in 1960, most people thought of a “wildlife expert” as a man in a lion's cage with a whip and a chair.

        Her then-radical approach to studying the chimpanzees at Gombe National Park in Tanzania - in her words “to watch free, wild animals living their own, undisturbed lives” - helped spawn a change in attitudes about animals and their environments.

        The World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and Greenpeace, not to mention the plethora of magazines, filmmakers and cable channels specializing in wildlife issues, owe a debt to her influence.

        Yet despite widespread awareness, wilderness continues to disappear. Preserving wild environments is the cause that keeps Dr. Goodall on the move, away from her home at Gombe, Tanzania.

        “I get there about twice a year,” she said. “I just go into the forest and let myself fill up with the peace of it, and the timelessness of it. It is like recharging a dying battery.”

        She relies on videos from Gombe to keep track of her chimps, including Fifi, the first member of the community to make physical contact with the young English researcher.

        “By the time I arrive (in Cincinnati), Fifi should have had another infant, which is contrary to all expectations,” Dr. Goodall said.

        “She's 43; she was a baby when I arrived.”

        The new baby would be Fifi's ninth; she has seven surviving offspring. “If they were all as successful as Fifi there would be the same overpopulation problem as we have in the surrounding community of people.”

        These days, Dr. Goodall worries about the threat of war with Iraq. “You know, this talk of war, fear of war, every day it's in the news, something else to be frightened about, it's very disturbing, very worrying. If bombs are dropped on Saddam Hussein, he's likely to retaliate with everything he's got, and goodness knows what that is likely to unleash. It's not just the environment, it's people.”

        She draws a direct link between the political and environment worlds. “I don't think there will ever be real peace, the peace we all yearn for all around the world until, for one thing, we eliminate the crippling poverty. I've seen it; I know what it's like. ... It's poverty that's destroying so much of the natural world. We have to let the natural world survive, otherwise there will always be fighting for resources.

        “And we have to somehow stabilize world population growth. It's terribly important.”

        “My main focus now, of course it's conservation,” she said, “but also, what's the point of doing that if we're not raising kids to be better stewards than we've been? That's why I'm focusing huge amounts of my energy on Roots and Shoots, which is our youth program.”

        The program operates in 60 countries with more than 4,000 groups of pre-school through university students who conduct hands-on projects such as organic gardening, park cleanup and recycling.

        “Everywhere I go, there are these children with shining eyes wanting to show Dr. Jane what they've done. They see that they've made a difference. Then we link them to other groups doing the same things in other countries, and suddenly your world vision can be less gloomy.”

        In Cincinnati, Roots and Shoots operates at a handful of schools, including a preschool in Hyde Park. Educators plan to meet this week to talk discuss launching new groups.

        While in Cincinnati, Dr. Goodall will receive a book of artwork and poems created by some 350 children from nine schools who studied a curriculum devised by zoo staff.

        “Nobody understand better than Jane the dilemma we're in and destruction of natural areas,” Mr. Maynard said. “Yet her message is a message of hope. When you leave her lecture, you don't leave saying "I'm so depressed.' You leave saying, "That woman is so effective, I'm paying attention to what she's saying.' ”

        “One of my new symbols of hope, which will undoubtedly be waving about when I come to Cincinnati, is a most glorious feather from a California condor,” Dr. Goodall said. “They were down to 17 individuals. Now there are 205, of which half are free-flying. This is so magical.”

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