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Dr. Jane Goodall spoke at Western's O'Neill Center in front of a near-capacity crowd. Her talk, "Gombe and Beyond: The Next 50 Years," commemorated the 50th anniversary of the start of her research on chimpanzees in Gombe.

The research Goodall started in Gombe continues to be conducted today, and is the longest continuous study of a group of chimpanzees. "Looking back over 50 years is an extraordinary experience," she said.

When Goodall started, no one knew just how alike humans and chimpanzees were.

"We didn't know how similar the anatomy of the human brain was," and that you can get a "blood transfusion if you match the blood of a chimpanzee," she said. Chimps have a sense of humor and "are capable of rational thought and reasoned thought."

Today Goodall said GPS technology and satellite imagery are aiding greatly in the study of chimpanzees.

"In every chimpanzee group that is being studied, there is a different tool-using technique," which is evidence that chimps pass down knowledge from generation to generation, she added.

Goodall said ever since she read as a young girl about Dr. Doolittle and Tarzan, studying animals in the wild was a dream of hers. Though she got to live that dream for a while, she left "the beautiful forests" in the 1980s in an effort to try to stop them from being destroyed.


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Long a champion of animal rights and the environment, Dr. Jane Goodall made one of her semi-annual visits to Western on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the start of her research on chimpanzees in Gombe.

Dr. Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots organization held a conference to coincide with Goodall's visit to campus, featuring workshops for college-level Roots & Shoots members.