Happy 80th Birthday, Jane Goodall, From Nat Geo Explorers!

Jane Goodall observes the antics of two chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. (Photograph by Michael Nichols)

In July 1960, at the age of 26, Jane Goodall traveled from England to what is today Tanzania and bravely entered the little-known world of wild chimpanzees. She was equipped with nothing more than a notebook and a pair of binoculars, but with her unyielding patience and characteristic optimism, she won the trust of these initially shy creatures. Jane managed to open a window into their sometimes strange yet often familiar-seeming lives. The public was fascinated and remains so to this day. April 3, 2014, marks Jane’s 80th birthday. Explorers and National Geographic staff shared their favorite moments and thoughts on this special day.

Hardly a day goes by when we are not grateful for the wealth of iconic leaders National Geographic has had the pleasure to support. Not only were you out front at an early age with your catalytic views of chimp society, but you have also grown over decades as a key champion for youth awareness and conservation. You are elemental in our history, and your sterling example reigns supreme in our efforts to inspire the next generation of explorers.

—John Francis, Vice President, Research, Conservation, and Exploration, National Geographic Society

Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall! Thank you for modeling kind, humane living and for celebrating the intrinsic value of all living things. You are a hero for the planet and all its creatures.

—Catherine Workman, Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society

When I was in high school, I already knew my life would be dedicated to animals. Reading Jane Goodall’s In The Shadow of Man gave me my first and most influential insight into what animal behavior observations were all about. I traveled to Africa (from my family’s apartment in NYC) through Jane’s eyes and experience. Reading about Jane’s work and her adventures as a woman allowed me to imagine that I too, as a young woman, could travel and study wild animals. She opened a world to me that changed my life forever. Jane has influenced a generation of biologists to continue her legacy as the voice of animals for conservation. Happy Birthday Jane, and thank you.

—Lisa Dabek, Director of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea

Picture of Mike Fay and Jane Goodall Mike Fay attempts to call chimps as Jane Goodall and her beloved stuffed monkey, Mr. H (a 1996 birthday present) wait. Goualougo, Congo. (Photograph by Michael Nichols)

Dear Dr Goodall, Here’s a note to wish you a very happy 80th birthday. You’ve been one of my major inspirations to keep working on biodiversity and its myriad connections with daily human life!

—Dino Martins

Jane is a good friend and an inspiration to me, like billions around the globe, in an up close kind of way. When we evacuated Aspinall’s gorillas and her chimpanzees from the Brazzaville Zoo under fire in 1997, we were able to get ancient Gregoire out, at Jane’s insistence; she would not let him die in the war. I admired that, and we became friends.

Anecdote: In the Ndoki with Jane years later, we had walked a very long distance to see naive chimpanzees, and she had the biggest blister on her foot that I have ever seen. She never complained. Next day we spent hours watching perhaps the only chimp society on Earth that had no collective memory of mankind: Jane was transformed.

—Mike Fay, Conservationsist, Explorer-in-Residence

Picture of Jane Goodall and chimps Jane Goodall and her old friend Fifi. Fifi is shown here with her offspring, Ferdinand and Faustino. (Photograph by Michael Nichols)

I want to congratulate Jane on her milestone birthday. I had the privilege of appearing with her at Chautauqua several years ago to speak on children’s education and on inspiring them to make the world a better place. No one epitomizes that better than Jane. She has inspired, is inspiring, and will continue to inspire children around the world to care about that world and all of its inhabitants.

—Gary E. Knell/President and CEO/National Geographic Society

Dear Jane,

I first met you in the Congo in about 1990, when working for the Brazzaville gorilla orphanage. It was wonderful to meet you back then, because I had grown up watching you on the telly. So to meet you in person in such an important part of the world for great ape conservation was very special. Remember Gregoire? I had already left Ndoki by the time you got to the Goualougo, but I’m glad you made it.

Have a very happy birthday and many happy returns.

The world needs people like you more than ever, so please keep on doing what you do.


—Stephen Blake, Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center

Picture Jill and Jane Goodall Jane Goodall and Jill Pruetz when Jane was in Iowa. (Photograph courtesy Jill Pruetz)

I would love to wish Jane “Birthday Pant Hoots” and thank her for all she has done and continues to do for chimpanzees, the environment and women in science. I worry about a world without Jane Goodall, and I am glad she is here!

—Jill D. Pruetz, Biological Anthropologist

Dear Dr. Goodall,

Thank you for all that you have done over the course of your amazing career. From your conservation efforts to your showing generations of young people that they too can make a difference, your work has made the world a better place. Happy 80th birthday!

—Donald A. Slater, Brandeis University, Department of Anthropology
Picture of Dr. Jane Goodall and Roots & Shoots members plant trees at the  Shanghai Zoo in China.Dr. Jane Goodall and Roots & Shoots members plant trees at the Shanghai Zoo in China. (Photograph by Chris Dickinson)

Jane’s amazing career, including extensive fieldwork in Africa, has definitely inspired my own career in central Africa. In my upcoming book I quote Jane: “And so Congo-Zaire—or Congo-Kinshasa as it is often called today—is still a land of mystery, of untamed wilderness. It is a country that holds an irresistible appeal for the intrepid field biologist, for without doubt, much remains to be discovered.” That’s from the foreword to The Okapi: Mysterious Animal of Congo-Zaire, 1998.

—Eli Greenbaum, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso

Picture of Jane and Freud Dr. Jane Goodall with Gombe chimpanzee Freud.  Photograph by Michael Neugebauer
Dr. Jane Goodall with Gombe chimpanzee Freud. (Photograph by Michael Neugebauer)

Many, many congratulations Jane—and still traveling the world getting the conservation message across. Inspirational and unmatched! Best wishes!

—Ian Singleton, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

Hi Jane-

Happy Birthday to you. What you have given the natural world and people is a giant present. Because of your love of chimps and natural history, you have inspired so many people to study the natural world and give voice for other living creatures. I loved being at Disney when you received one of your many awards and in Seattle at a TNC dinner you brought the house down with your chimp calls. Congratulations on another milestone. Thank you for all you have done to inspire people to help nature and make the planet a better place. One event that I cherish is when the New York Times called me the Jane Goodall of penguins. That was a big honor because you are one of my heroes. Happy Birthday!

—Dee Boersma, Biologist

Ways to Celebrate Jane’s Birthday:

  • Sign the global birthday card for Jane – This is a great way to send a personal message to Jane that she will receive on her birthday. Simply share the link in a blog post, on social media, or to your personal contacts. So many people are grateful to learn about this opportunity to send their own personal message to Jane for her big day.

  • Send a birthday message or card – If you want to send Jane a more visual message for her birthday you can upload photos and videos to this gallery here. Jane will receive these on her birthday and they will be seen by people all over the world online.

  • Tune in to the live birthday broadcast – On April 3, at 6 p.m. GMT the whole world can tune in to a live-on-YouTube Google+ Hangout birthday party with Jane. The party will feature remarks from Jane herself, young people sharing stories of projects they are dedicating to her, and so much more. All you have to do is visit www.janegoodall.org/80yearsofJane. You can even use the hashtag #80yearsofJane to ask questions during the live Hangout!

Amy Bucci is a web producer for National Geographic. Her projects mainly cover National Geographic explorers, grantees and initiatives.
  • Mollie Connoe

    Happy Birthday to a great lady who has helped our planet and the animals who inhabit it.

  • Andre T.

    My wife and I saw you speak a couple of days ago in Bakersfield, CA. It was so inspiring. My wife has been a huge fan of yours for so many years– she cried and cried after meeting you in the book signing line. I had an original copy of In the Shadow of Man signed for her. Thank you so much!

  • newdin

    “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JANE’….you are so sweet.ALLAH always with you.Thanks for what you have done that i can’t do it.All the best to you.Wish could met you…..insyaallah.

  • Kathy (Yorks) Gephart

    I will never forget the first time I saw you speak after years of teaching my biology students about you and your work. I was so overcome with emotion, I could barely speak. I managed to say, “I have waited so long to meet you” and you held my hand and said “And now you must help us.” That moment remains one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and rivaled only when I received not one, but two personal mailings from you in response to a card and letter I left for you. Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many woman and future scientists. You are the wind beneath many, many wings.

  • Terri Merz

    Happy Birthday to a great lady who makes our world a better place!

  • Bev Garrison

    Happy Birthday to an amazing lady!

  • Regina Brulotte

    Happy Birthday to a wonderful woman who was my role model while growing up.

  • Sharon Cory

    My role model for life

  • Gary Shapiro

    Jane inspired me to go into primatology four decades ago. I was asked by my community college in N. California to pick her up at the airport in 1971 so she could speak on campus that evening. I remember that I sat on her hotel room bed as she called Beatrix and R. Allen Gardner who just published a paper on the signing chimpanzee, Washoe. She invited the Gardners to come to campus from Reno and attend her lecture. That night I sat next to the Gardners in the front row of the filled auditorium, and a couple years later I was working with an orangutan at the Fresno Zoo teaching he symbolic communication; two years later in Oklahoma teaching sign language to chimpanzees; after that, 2 years in the forest of Borneo teaching sign language to orangutans. I saw Jane in Borneo in 1991 during a Great Ape Conference and remember sipping brandy with her- just the two of us- as we watched the river flow by. Jane, Happy Birthday, and I will sip some brandy to honor you.

  • Lindsey Parks

    Observer, educator, activist, lady–many happy returns.

  • maria combs

    Met Dr. Jane in San Antonio, TX. In 2005. She noticed my scar on my chest from my open heart surgery, and when I bought her book she signed”Hear your heart” I love her very much….bendiciones to her.

  • April Paulson

    Dear Jane,
    I wish you a very happy birthday. I hope to have the honor of meeting you one day. Thank you for all you do.

  • Suely Sarrat

    Você é uma mulher maravilhosa. Todos esses anos cuidando desses animais, com total dedicação. São poucas as pessoas que se dedicam dessa maneira a uma causa tão nobre. Feliz aniversário, realmente você é um orgulho.

  • Tiburcio Gabilondo

    Estimada y admirada Dra. Goodall: Gracias por su enorme esfuerzo por brindarnos entendimiento al mundo al que hemos dado la espalda durante nuestra extraña evolución. Gracias por su aportación a la ciencia. Pero principalmente, gracias por mostrarnos el estrecho vínculo de nuestro origen con nuestros parientes más cercanos a través de la sensibilidad. Feliz cumpleaños.Usted nos honra a todos.

  • Xandra Brosius

    Happy birthday! You have been such an inspiration to me.

  • Shayla S.

    Merci beaucoup for all that you have done for this beautiful earth and the humans and animals that inhabit its’ surface. You are an amazing inspiration to all us.

  • Michelle B.

    Happy Birthday Jane. You have been an inspiration to me since I was first introduced to your work while I was in high school. The world needs more like you – thank you and here’s to many more happy birthdays to come.

  • Terrence Earle

    Happy Birthday! You’re a wonderful person and you deserve everyone applause! Even at your age you still astound us! 🙂

  • Sofia Giranda

    Happy Birthday Dear Jane Goodall. May God bless you always!

  • Deepayan Basu

    Wishing you Dr. Jane, a very very happy birthday…..this world desperately needs people with heart like yours…..May you be blessed every single day of your life….for having been the human voice of the chimps for so many years and continue to be……Thank you…..

  • Lynn Perry

    Happy birthday Jane!

    I remember talking to you probably 35 years ago. You were on a radio station. I asked question “doesn’t it ever make you want to give up?” It was as if you couldn’t even understand the question. You said “Oh no! I have so much hope!” My heart broke open at that moment and has remained so ever since. You are a light on this planet, and I hope that I can contribute to that light myself in some way. Thank you for making the world a better place!


  • Judith Balint

    A very inspirational life of a very devoted, brave woman, who’s became a successfull ambassador for the animal kingdom.

  • Deborah Whitehouse

    What an inspiration you were Dr. Goodall, in my life. As a youngster in college, I read of your studies just getting into full swing when studying anthropology and later in life, when practicing ecology and spirituality. You are a beam of wisdom and hope! Happy, happy birthday to a woman who we truly can say the world is a better place for having your presence!


  • Frederik Schütt

    Thank you, Jane, for inspiring everyone of us who wish to do right. No one shouts as loud, clear and beautifully as you do without even raising your voice.

  • Lori Leeks

    Happy Birthday Dr Jane!
    Your message of hope inspires me. I’ve known of you for most of my life. I hope all of your birthday wishes come true!! You’re making the world a better place and I believe will continue to do so long after you are gone. Your book ‘Harvest for Hope’ changed the way I buy groceries. I’ve gifted several copies of it. I saw you speak in Edmonton at the Jubilee auditorium. My friend Kathleen and I both cried! In a very good way. Love and Peace to you always.

  • Al Giraldi

    Happy birthday, Miss Jane. You are one of my heros

  • Joeline Ezekiel


  • eli giola

    Happy Birthday to a wonderful soul that has inspired my world.
    Thank you for 80 years of kindness

  • DanielNYC

    Happy birthday – anyone gets a chance to go visit Tanzania should definitely welcome the opportunity. Is a wonderful place to be and it also has some of the most amazing wildlife you will ever be able to put your eyes on. All of the times I have went to Tanzania I always use the website http://www.africa.com/travel/tanzania/ because not only is the website informative but it also has great ideas and it will give you all of the suitable information so that when you are in Tanzania you will be able to get the best bang for your buck. This is a truly amazing opportunity to visit this country and you will be blown away by how stunning the scenery is and the culture.

  • Jim Lyons

    Happy Birthday, Jane! Thanks for sharing your endless curiosity with the world. You seriously turned us on to the world!-Jim Lyons

  • Becky Fixter

    My heart sings from watching your inspiring compassion, sensitivity and dedication to our friends in the animal kingdom who so desperately need our help.

  • Brammanand

    Happy Birthday Mam. I got to know about you only today… but feeling amazed… A big salute to you… if we have more people like u , the world will be a much better place to live

  • Farida Hasan

    Dear Jane Goodali,
    You are, and will always continue to be, one of my heroines. A very happy birthday to you and God bless you for all your wonderful work!

  • ben


  • Skye Marie Baklik

    I’m reading a book about you and I love it. You are so interesting and brave. I am also making a poster board and it would be really cool if you can give me your signature on a piece of paper and send it to me. 152 East Village Road. And what ever happened to you sister? Please answer back! “Hopefully!”

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