How Jane Goodall Inspired My Work

English: Jane Goodall attending the 18th Annua...Jane Goodall turns 79 today. She stills travels 300 days a year to spread her message of conservation and support for great apes, especially her chimps.


As a female primatologist she is an inspiration to me. At the age of 23 she left home to explore her passion for Africa in Kenya, 1957. She was sent back to England by Louis Leakey, the archaeologist who had hired her as secretary, to study primate behaviour and anatomy. In 1960 she returned to begin work at Gombe National Park.  By 1962 Leaky had arranged for Goodall to return to England to receive her PhD.


Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, is the former president of Advocates for Animals, and is a devoted vegetarian and advocates the diet for ethical, environmental, and health reasons.


Jane Goodall is a huge part in how my African experience came to be. On December 24th, 2010 I was watching “Iconoclasts” with my mother. That particular episode featured Jane Goodall and Charlize Theron interviewing each other in Africa. Like Goodall I have always had a huge interest in Africa, I’d always felt it was a place I needed to visit. Watching Jane interact with the chimps brought back the feelings I had experiences working with lemurs and monkeys. As I sat there watching I suddenly burst out crying, startling my mother, and told her “I need to be there.” She nodded and said, “So go.”


I left the room as the episode ended, went back to the University of Wisconsin Primate Jobs website, where I had landed many a time, dreaming of performing any of these jobs I was so unqualified for. This time, however, I was unexpectedly rewarded. There, listed between all the jobs I had no business even looking at, was a posting for a Vet Nurse.


I felt tingles as I read the job description and realized, this was a job I was qualified for. I had a couple of years clinical experience, as well as husbandry of primates. I felt my chances were low as I assumed that there just be any people like me desperate to work with primates, but I assembled and rewrote my CV and cover letter, and applied for the job on December 26th.


I got it.


I would not have had the opportunity to spend that amazing year caring for 500 vervet monkeys in Africa had it not been for watching Jane Goodall speak on Iconoclasts. Because of her inspiration, at 22 years old I moved by myself to South Africa to spend a year as the vet nurse at the Vervet Monkey Foundation, learning about wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, behaviour, and activism. I came back dedicated to spreading the word for the conservation of primates worldwide.

Myself feeding orphans at the Vervet Monkey Foundation

Myself feeding orphans at the Vervet Monkey Foundation


Thank you Jane, for being such an inspiring and compassionate person. I wish you a happy Birthday and many more to come.


You can watch Jane Goodall’s TEDtalks videos online.


You can read a full biography of Jan Goodall on JGI.


Speaking of women who have shaped my life, today is also my mothers’ birthday! I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for having such an amazing woman in my life. From raising my brother and I (often as a single parent on military bases), supporting my dream to work with animals from a young age, to paying my loan payments during my year in Africa, my mama has done so much for me that I could never dream to repay her for. I love you mama, Happy Birthday! <3


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About laceymccutchen

"'I want out of the labels. I don't want my whole life crammed into a single word. A story. I want to find something else, unknowable, some place to be that's not on the map. A real adventure.' A spinx. A mystery. A blank. Unknown. Undefined."

Posted on April 3, 2013, in Life, Vervet Monkey Foundation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Allison Forsythe

    I love this post! :)

  2. And as she inspired you people such as your self inspire me…. I have a dream to undefined and exciting in an adventure you are truely free. Thanks for the post.

  1. Pingback: Monkeys, lemurs sold in British pet shops | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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