Disneynature Q&A Session with Dr. Jane Goodall – CHIMPANZEE




JANE GOODALL (Ph.D., DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace) began her landmark study of chimpanzee behavior in July 1960, in what is now Tanzania. Her work at Gombe Stream would become the foundation of future primatological research and redefine the relationship between humans and animals.

In 1977, Dr. Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues the Gombe research and is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. The Institute is widely recognized for innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian youth program.

Dr. Goodall founded Roots & Shoots with a group of Tanzanian students in 1991. Today, Roots & Shoots connects hundreds of thousands of youth in more than 120 countries who take action to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment.

Dr. Goodall travels an average 300 days per year, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her reasons for hope that humankind will solve the problems it has imposed on the earth.

Dr. Goodall’s honors include the French Legion of Honor, the Medal of Tanzania, and Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize. In 2002, Dr. Goodall was appointed to serve as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and in 2003, she was named a Dame of the British Empire.

For more information about Dr. Goodall and the work of the Jane Goodall Institute, please visit www.janegoodall.org.

Disneynature takes moviegoers deep into the forests of Africa with “Chimpanzee,” a new True Life Adventure introducing an adorable young chimpanzee named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph. Oscar’s playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Working together, Oscar’s chimpanzee family—including his mom, Isha, and the group’s savvy leader, Freddy — navigates the complex territory of the forest. The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimpanzees, who’d rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimpanzees, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. Directed by Alastair Fothergill (“African Cats” and “Earth”) and Mark Linfield (“Earth”), and narrated by Tim Allen (Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” ABC’s “Last Man Standing”).

Moderator: Do you know why the alpha male in the movie chose to adopt Oscar?

Dr. Goodall: It’s unprecedented really. There is one observation of an alpha male adopting an infant in the last 53 years from the chimpanzee study site and nobody knows why that happened. We don’t know why Freddy adopted little Oscar, but I think it was because Oscar was so desperate and he just followed and followed and followed this big male.

In the end, Freddy melted, and it just shows that these big, tough males have a soft side, a gentler side. I think some of the most moving moments in the film are seeing this great big, tough male gently grooming and sharing his food with little Oscar—it’s really, really amazing—and saving his life.

Moderator: What does the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) do to help orphan chimps like Oscar?

Dr. Goodall: We run the largest sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees in Africa in the Republic of Congo. These chimpanzees are orphaned by the commercial bushmeat trade—that’s shooting wild animals for their meat and selling it. Sometimes mothers are shot and their babies are orphaned. There is no meat on the baby chimp so they’re sold in the marketplaces. The government will confiscate them and we are caring for them, so lots and lots of little Oscars. Some of the money from Disneynature will help us care for these orphans.

Moderator: What kind of projects are going to be funded through the Jane Goodall Institute from the funds raised from the first week of the movie?

Dr. Goodall: The funds will help our work in the Republic of Congo. Specifically, the funds will help protect the chimpanzees’ home, the tropical forest; educate the next generation; and care for orphaned chimpanzees at the sanctuary there. We’re really, really grateful to Disneynature for making this donation during the first week of the showing of the film. Please, all of you, tell everybody to go in the first week, because that’s when we get the percentage of the box office.

Moderator: I’ve heard you say that you hope this movie reaches into our hearts; that we’re not the only beings with personality and thoughts; that chimps are a lot like us. Do you think this film is a good way to introduce the importance of biodiversity and survival of the species?

Dr. Goodall: Yes, because I don’t think anybody can come away from this movie and not be touched, not understand that chimpanzees like us do indeed have personalities. They can solve problems, reason things out, and absolutely, they have emotions. People will understand better. They’ll all fall in love with little Oscar. There is no way you can’t. I think a lot of people will have, as I do, a soft spot for Freddy who rescues little Oscar.

I’m hoping that this real understanding of what’s going on in the chimpanzee community, deep in the heart of the forest, will make people more aware and more ready to help us in our efforts to protect chimpanzees, which we’re doing in several different African countries. In order to save the chimpanzees, we have to protect their forest home. It’s protecting these tropical rain forests that does indeed preserve very many other animals, and plants, and rich biodiversity, which is so important. Also, saving the forest is helping us with clean water supplies, with fresh air, and above all, sequestering CO2 so that it slows down global warming.

Moderator: What have you enjoyed most about working on this project with Disneynature?

Dr. Goodall: I haven’t really worked with them. I talked with the team. I’ve talked with the Disneynature people in Paris. I’ve always said I want to help promote this film, but I wasn’t actually involved in the filming. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the team that did the filming, and one thing I would like to say is I have enormous admiration for this team.

The quality of the photography is utterly superb. The sound is terrific. The shots showing you what it’s like down deep in the forest are amazing. The shots from above, looking out over the whole vista, are incredible. The shots of the storms, as well as the chimpanzee behavior, and to get this, this team had to struggle in high heat and humidity. They had to sometimes keep up with fast moving chimpanzees who can go for 10 miles or so. They’ve had to crawl through the vegetation with really heavy loads on their backs. They faced vicious biting army ants. They’ve been covered in bees. I mean, this is one tough environment to get film in—I know—and they are just a fabulous team.

Moderator: I’ve read that you have a large focus on community-centered conservation. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works and what it is?

Dr. Goodall: Okay. It was back in the early ‘90s. I flew in a small plane over Gombe National Park in Tanzania, which is where I’ve done all my research. It’s very tiny. It’s only 35 square kilometers. Although I knew there was deforestation outside the park, I had no idea, until that day, that there were basically no trees left. Looking down, it was obvious there were more people than the land could support. They were too poor to buy food from elsewhere. The land was getting more and more over farmed. They were struggling to survive. Water supplies were drying up. How could we even try to protect the famous Gombe chimpanzees while people were living like this?

That’s what led to JGI’s program TACARE, which is improving the lives of the people living around wilderness areas in a very holistic way, with everything from different kinds of farming more suitable for restoring fertility to the land, working with groups of women, scholarships to keep girls in schools—realizing that as women’s education improves, family size tends to drop.

It’s been so successful, this program, that where there were no trees all the way around Gombe, now the villagers understand that saving the environment is saving their own future, as well as the chimps. Around Gombe there is now a buffer. After six years, trees can be 30 feet high. We’re replicating the program now in three other African countries to protect other chimpanzee groups and forests.

Dr. Goodall: Also, I’d like to add one thing. There is one program of ours that I’d really love to tell you about. That’s our program for youth, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. It began in Tanzania with 12 secondary school students. It’s now in more than 120 countries. It involves young people from preschool all the way through university. On their own, every group chooses three different kinds of projects to make the world a better place. One to help people, one to help animals—and we certainly hope that the young people will, for example, raise money to be a JGI Chimp Guardian and learn about chimps, but they can also help other animals—and a project to help the environment that we all share.

The main message: Every single one of us makes a difference, every single day. If we would just think about the consequences of the choices we make—what we buy, what we wear, what we eat. How did that effect the environment? Did it involve cruelty to animals? Did this involve sweat shop labor in other countries? If we just start thinking that way, and thinking about choices we make, like turning taps off, and saving electricity, and riding a bicycle if possible—these kinds of little things.

Now knowing that there are literally thousands, millions of people around the planet beginning to think this way, it’s when more people start making the right choices that the environment, and the future, will begin to see the change we need to have. Because you hear we haven’t inherited this planet from our parents, we borrowed it from our children. But we’ve been stealing, stealing, stealing, and it’s time we start paying back.

Any of you who can encourage young people of all ages, from all backgrounds, to look up rootsandshoots.org, as well as our own janegoodall.org websites, I will be very, very grateful to you, and so will the chimps, and so will the children.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 3pm ET