As a girl in England, Jane Goodall had a toy chimpanzee named Jubilee — a harbinger of the primatologist she was to become and of the jubilant audiences that greet her at every turn in adulthood. Beginning in 1960, her groundbreaking studies of chimpanzees in the African wild led to a series of revelations that revolutionized the scientific understanding of these close human relatives. Goodall, a onetime secretary who skipped past a bachelor’s degree to do a doctorate in ethnology at the University of Cambridge, famously discovered that chimpanzees make and use tools, thrive in socially complex families, and even engage in warfare.
Goodall named the top influences in her life: her mother Vanne, who accompanied her on her first Africa field trip; paleontologist Louis Leakey, whose faith in her curiosity propelled Goodall into fieldwork and, later, Cambridge; her childhood dog Rusty, who taught her that animals have personalities and emotions; and David Greybeard, the Gombe chimp who was the first to approach Goodall in her initial year of field study. (It was a shock to science that Goodall gave the subjects of her chimpanzee field studies individual names, including Flo, Freud, and Satan — the chimp who stole a manuscript and had to be bribed with a banana to bring it back.)