Sunday, March 25, 2007

Jane Goodall at the Inside the Mind of Chimpanzee Conference

On Sunday Bonnie and I heard Jane Goodall speak at the final event of Inside the Mind of Chimpanzees, a conference sponsored by Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. The presentation was open to the public and held in Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom. 1700 people attended, most as in awe as I was. I do not remember ever seeing anyone as eminent as Jane Goodall.

Before Goodall took the stage, we heard Richard Wrangham, the author of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. He spoke about latest research into chimpanzee intelligence and showed a series of videos of chimps solving problems. I wish there were copies on YouTube so I could link to them. They showed chimps going far beyond making simple tools to fish for termites.

Goodall received a standing ovation for just appearing on the stage. She appeared to speak without notes and kept the audience enthralled with her stories and observations. She told of her early career and the life changing events that led her to pursue environmentalism. Her report on her recent activities updated her book Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey. I think she said that Roots and Shoots, her program to educate youth to care for the earth, now has groups in over 90 countries.

Goodall said that she travels about 300 days a year to give presentations worldwide, so you may have a chance to see her where ever you are. Do so if you can. If you hear she is coming to your area, put up a book display. She has written many books, including a series for children. Her latest book, Harvest for Hope: A Guide for Mindful Eating, calls for people to change eating and shopping habits to influence the food industry.

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