By Jared Kaufman
World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall spoke to a packed crowd at the Missouri Arena on Wednesday. Nearly 5,000 people attended her lecture, entitled “Sowing the Seeds of Hope.” Dr. Goodall achieved worldwide renown through her work with chimpanzees, and has been a U.N. Messenger of Peace since 2002.
Goodall began her speech by greeting the crowd just as a chimpanzee would. Then, she took the audience on a journey through her life, from her childhood as a nature-obsessed young girl; to her famous work with chimpanzees in Africa; to her worldwide youth movement, Roots and Shoots; to her present efforts to combat habitat loss, bushmeat trading, and social injustices to create a future with hope for success.
As a child, she explained, she was inspired by Tarzan. But Tarzan made one mistake:
“He married the wrong Jane,” Goodall quipped, to much laughter from the crowd.
She also expressed gratitude to her mother for being supportive of young Goodall’s innate wonderment of the natural world.
“If I had a different sort of mother, all that curiosity would’ve been crushed,” Goodall said.
Now Goodall is 80 years old, but continues lecturing, advocating for environmental responsibility, and sharing her message of hope for the future. Since 1986, she has travelled 300 days a year and has never stayed in one place for more than three weeks at a time. Mizzou was just one stop on her constant world tour – she visited 22 countries last year alone.
After the speech, reactions from audience members were overwhelmingly positive.
“She has so much energy; she’s so much a catalyst for change. The number of people that she’s been able to influence by speaking – she really has served as a catalyst. She hasn’t been able to do it all by herself, but she’s started so many other reactions. One person can do something,” said Laurel Myers, a senior at MU.
On the lectern during her speech were two stuffed animals – a cow and a monkey. The cow, which she named Cow, is her spokesman for abused farm animals, and the monkey, Mr. H., is Goodall’s mascot, which accompanies her all around the world.
Dr. Goodall’s talk was one of the major events that was part of Mizzou’s 175th anniversary week, and was sponsored in part by the Delta Gamma Lectureship Series in Values and Ethics, the MSA/GPC Speakers Committee, and the Department of Student Life.