Jane Goodall Quotes

Chimpanzee Researcher

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall at the UN General Assembly, 2005. Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Jane Goodall is a chimpanzee researcher and observer, known for her work at Gombe Stream Reserve. Jane Goodall has also worked for the conservation of chimpanzees and for broader environmental issues, including vegetarianism.

Selected Jane Goodall Quotations

• The greatest danger to our future is apathy.

• Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.

• I'm always pushing for human responsibility. Given that chimpanzees and many other animals are sentient and sapient, then we should treat them with respect.

• My mission is to create a world where we can live in harmony with nature.

• If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities, and never give up, you will find a way.

• Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.

• That I did not fail was due in part to patience....

• The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

• I wanted to talk to the animals like Dr. Doolittle.

• Chimpanzees have given me so much. The long hours spent with them in the forest have enriched my life beyond measure. What I have learned from them has shaped my understanding of human behavior, of our place in nature.

• The more we learn of the true nature of non-human animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding complex social behavior, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in the service of man -- whether this be in entertainment, as "pets," for food, in research laboratories, or any of the other uses to which we subject them.

• People say to me so often, "Jane how can you be so peaceful when everywhere around you people want books signed, people are asking these questions and yet you seem peaceful," and I always answer that it is the peace of the forest that I carry inside.

• Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.

• Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long your values don't change.

• Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right.

• We can't leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world's people while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.

• How would I have turned out, I sometimes wonder, had I grown up in a house that stifled enterprise by imposing harsh and senseless discipline? Or in an atmosphere of overindulgence, in a household where there were no rules, no boundaries drawn? My mother certainly understood the importance of discipline, but she always explained why some things were not allowed. Above all, she tried to be fair and to be consistent.

• As a small child in England, I had this dream of going to Africa. We didn't have any money and I was a girl, so everyone except my mother laughed at it. When I left school, there was no money for me to go to university, so I went to secretarial college and got a job.

• I do not want to discuss evolution in such depth, however, only touch on it from my own perspective: from the moment when I stood on the Serengeti plains holding the fossilized bones of ancient creatures in my hands to the moment when, staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back.

You may not believe in evolution, and that is all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves.

• Anyone who tries to improve the lives of animals invariably comes in for criticism from those who believe such efforts are misplaced in a world of suffering humanity.

• In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.

• Researchers find it very necessary to keep blinkers on. They don't want to admit that the animals they are working with have feelings.

They don't want to admit that they might have minds and personalities because that would make it quite difficult for them to do what they do; so we find that within the lab communities there is a very strong resistance among the researchers to admitting that animals have minds, personalities, and feelings.

• Thinking back over my life, it seems to me that there are different ways of looking out and trying to understand the world around us. There's a very clear scientific window. And it does enable us to understand an awful lot about what's out there. There's another window, it's the window through which the wise men, the holy men, the masters, of the different and great religions look as they try to understand the meaning in the world. My own preference is the window of the mystic.

• There are an awful lot of scientists today who believe that before very long we shall have unraveled all the secrets of the universe. There will be no puzzles anymore. To me it'd be really, really tragic because I think one of the most exciting things is this feeling of mystery, feeling of awe, the feeling of looking at a little live thing and being amazed by it and how its emerged through these hundreds of years of evolution and there it is and it is perfect and why.

• I sometimes think that the chimps are expressing a feeling of awe, which must be very similar to that experience by early people when they worshiped water and the sun, things they didn't understand.

• If you look through all the different cultures.

Right from the earliest, earliest days with the animistic religions, we have sought to have some kind of explanation for our life, for our being, that is outside of our humanity.

• Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long your values don't change.

About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Jane Goodall Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/jane_goodall.htm

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Jane Goodall Quotes." ThoughtCo, May. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/jane-goodall-quotes-3530105. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, May 1). Jane Goodall Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/jane-goodall-quotes-3530105 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Jane Goodall Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/jane-goodall-quotes-3530105 (accessed January 19, 2018).