On Her Mother’s Support For her Love of Animals:
JANE FONDA: So tell me, when you were growing up, what was it that first got you interested in animals and the natural world?
JANE GOODALL: I was born that way. I mean it. When I was one and a half, my mother found I had got a whole lot of earthworms in bed with me, and I was watching them. She said, “You look as though you wondered how they walk without legs.” I had this wonderful, supportive mother who didn’t get mad because of all the earth mucking up my bed. She just said they’d die—they needed the earth. And you know the wonderful story of me hiding and waiting for over four hours to see the hen laying the egg, and the police almost being called because I had disappeared. Again, Mom wisely—instead of getting mad at me—she saw my excited eyes and sat down to hear the wonderful story of how a hen lays an egg. Oh, she was amazing. She’s the one who found books for me to read because we had no TV back then. When we were kids, we had very little money. Most of our clothes and all the books were secondhand or from the library.
On Ted Turner Making Chimp Noises On The Phone:
FONDA: You tell so many stories that make people cry—out of astonishment, not sadness. Also, the awareness that if we paid more attention, we’d have so much to learn from these animals that are so much like us.
GOODALL:And think of what we’re doing to the elephants and the rhinos and the lions. And now in the dear old U.S., they’re about to delist grizzly bears [from Endangered Species Act protection]. We have to stop it. We have to get people to sign a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
FONDA:We’ll get Ted Turner involved in that because he loves the grizzly. He has grizzlies on his ranch. And wolves. He brought the wolves onto his ranch. Any time he ever talked to you on the phone, in the 10 years I was married to him, he’d make chimp noises. “Oh, he’s on the phone with Jane!”
On Her Best Friend Growing Up, A Dog Named Rusty, And How He taught Her That Animals Have Minds And Emotions: GOODALL: From about 13 on, my best friend came into my life, my dog Rusty. Honestly, Jane, he was sent into my life to teach me things. He wasn’t even our dog. He lived in a hotel down the road, and he came every morning at 6 a.m. to be let in, went home for lunch, and stayed until we turned him out about 10 at night. And the owners knew, but they didn’t care two hoots.
FONDA: What did he teach you?
GOODALL: He taught me that animals have personalities and minds and emotions, when, at that time, science said only we did. Later, I was chastised for talking about the chimps like that. But Rusty had already taught me when I was a child.
On When She Realized Without Helping People You Can’t Help Chimps:
FONDA:Well, I will wager that the fact that you were a young, attractive woman didn’t help.
GOODALL: Well, look, I wasn’t trying to be a scientist. I only ever wanted to be a naturalist, like a David Attenborough. Louis Leakey made me get a degree, which I’m now glad about because it certainly helped. But I think the very fact that I was a young, attractive woman brought the National Geographic Society in, who funded things after I’d seen the tool-using. You know, the beauty-and-the-beast-type thing. So I actually found it helpful. And then I found I loved the science part of it. I loved collecting data, and being able to analyze it really helped me, but that wasn’t my goal when I set out. By that time, I was hooked, and I knew I had to go on getting money to find out about the chimps. I was by then committed to chimps. When I got to Gombe in 1960, the forest curled all the way from southwestern Tanzania around the lake through Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and into the Congo Basin and West Africa—it was unbroken. And there were probably between one and two million chimps. The onslaught on the African forest had not started. Now Gombe is a little island surrounded by hills that were totally bare by 1991. The land had lost its fertility and the people were cutting down the last trees to try to grow food because they were so poor. And that’s when I realized if we don’t help the people, we can’t even try to save the chimps. Since we’ve begun our program helping the people, the chimps have more forest.