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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Chimpanzee Expert’s Hope Rests with Youth

WHEN you first see her, it’s a bit difficultto imagine that Jane Goodall spent somuch of her life in the jungles of Africa,surrounded by chimpanzees.She moves eloquently and speaks witha refined British accent, initially conveyingmore of her title as a Dame of theBritish Empire (equivalent to a knighthood),than her reputation as a rugged biologistwho stands her ground against animalswho could part her at their whim.But after only a few seconds at thepodium Monday afternoon, before some200 onlookers at the National BiodiversityInstitute (INBio) in Heredia, Goodall leftno doubts about where her heart lies.“I’D like to bring all of you, here inCosta Rica, a greeting from Tanzania,” shesaid, and bellowed out a powerful andshockingly accurate chimpanzee greetinginto the microphone.She said she feels at home among thelush vegetation at InBioParque, an educationalcenter and nature park run by theinstitute.Here to celebrate InBio’s 15th anniversary,and to establish the first Costa Ricanchapter of her Roots and Shoots program –an international effort to instill hope inchildren – Goodall addressed attendeesabout conservation, reasons for hope andher hope for peace.“When I look at them, these little children,and I think how much we’ve damagedthis planet, when I think of thespecies around the world that have gone,become extinct in the time it took me togrow up, I feel this sense of anguish,”Goodall, 70, said. “And so for me, to spendthe rest of my life working on bringinghope to youth, creating an environmentwhere they feel they get the knowledge onthe one hand and on the other they areempowered to do something about it, andnot just sit and let the world becomedestroyed: I feel that this is my mission.”GOODALL has been pushing Rootsand Shoots, which has chapters in 87 countriesacross the world, in Costa Rica sinceher first visit to the country in 2002 (TT,Jan. 25, 2002). The program is not strictlyorganized, and its only goal is to promote“service-learning” projects for children, tohelp animals, the environment and humancommunities, she explained.“We can’t teach values, but if you instigatethese things in the right way, the kidsdevelop values. I’ve been told that againand again by teachers,” said Goodall, whohas authored eight children’s books aboutchimpanzees.She spoke of children’s energy andenthusiasm to hold on to hope, and to makea difference, and explained how Roots andShoots, which she founded in east Africa in1991, got its name.“Roots spread underground and make anice firm foundation and shoots – the littleshoots of plant – can seem tiny, but togetherthe roots and the shoots can breakthrough a brick wall.”AS a result of her efforts to spreadpeace and hope through Roots and Shoots,United Nations Secretary General KofiAnnan in April 2002 named Goodall aU.N. Messenger for Peace. On Monday,Goodall spoke out against the U.S.-led warin Iraq, pointing out that the money spentfighting the war could have been used to“eliminate poverty in much of the world.”She lamented that the explosion of thehuman intellect, has led to so many positivethings such as sophisticated communicationtechnologies and medical advancements,has also led to the creation ofadvanced technology designed specificallyto kill.“What I believe happens is that, forwhatever reason, the brain, which is soclever, loses a little thread that shouldattach it to our hearts – human compassion,”Goodall, whose research haschanged theories about human evolution,told The Tico Times. “When your head andyour heart are connected, you get a humanbeing who is intelligent, compassionateand loving.”SHE said that underneath our intellect,stemming sophisticated spoken language,humans do not differ as greatly as we oncethought from the rest of the animal kingdom.Chimpanzees, Goodall documentedin 1974, also engage in warfare.“Underneath it all, underneath our spokenlanguage and our technology and ourknow-how, there is a heart, and there is amind, and there is a body that is not unlikethat of the chimpanzee. There are feelings,and emotions, and an outlook on life, thatenables them as us to solve simple problems,to use objects as tools, to cooperatewith each other,” she said.GOODALL also discussed the need tohalt extinctions across the globe.“We’re only just beginning to understandhow the elimination of a life formcan affect the environment from which ithas been taken,” she said. “And these lifeforms around the world are disappearing inmany cases before they’ve even been identified– before they’ve even beendescribed, let alone anybody knowingwhat their role was in that environment.Now, they’ve gone forever.”INBio makes cataloging as manyspecies as possible its mission, boasting acollection of more than 3 million specimens,all of which have been identified.The institute operates under the assumptionthat the best way to conserve biodiversityis to promote the possibilities itpresents to improve humans’ quality oflife.GOODALL on Tuesday visited withPresident Abel Pacheco, whom she metduring her last visit (TT, Sept. 20, 2002), todiscuss conservation and his proposedenvironmental bill of rights.She said she is “very, very excited”about the possibility of the environmentalguarantees. The proposed guarantees haveyet to be added to the Constitution, as theyare still under review at the LegislativeAssembly. Also during her second visit,Goodall outlined hopes for the Roots andShoots program here to foster educationalprograms on land near Guápiles, privatelyowned and protected by the BosqueLluvioso Foundation.THIS week’s visit was Goodall’s thirdtrip to Costa Rica, a country she called “acitadel of understanding biodiversity.”She also visited the bilingual LincolnSchool and participated in a live videoconferencewith students from New York, andmet with former President and NobelPeace Prize winner Oscar Arias (1986-1990), according to her tour organizers.For more information about Roots andShoots or about the Jane Goodall Institute,visit


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