As a child, she loved animals. Her mom got her a stuffed animal monkey named Jubilee. She slept with it every night and somehow this little stuffed toy made an impact on the soon to be famous icon. She knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to work with real animals, not stuffed toys. But this is back in the 50’s when women weren’t meeting the Queen very often, winning Nobel peace prizes and becoming legends researching chimpanzees in the wild.
Enter Jane Goodall. A woman who decided to make a call that set all of that in motion.
In her 20’s she was living in Kenya on a friends farm. Her friend recommended she get a hold of someone who might be able to talk to her about her passion for animals. I am sure he said something like “You should call this guy named Leaky!” (With a name like that I can tell you I wouldn’t be telling him any secrets anytime soon, or having him fix my faucet.) But that call changed her entire life. With the intention of only talking with someone else who loved animals, she reached out…and the rest is history.
Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey took her under his wing hiring her as a secretary and then appointed her the main person to research chimpanzees and their behavior, hoping it would add to his research he had been doing about the origins of human and ape. He helped put her through school, raised funds for her to get her PhD, and funded her continuing work for years to come. Wow. Good CALL. Literally. He was an amazing archeologist and famed paleontologist, taken with her energy knowledge and love of animals. He was also a man who loved to support and encourage powerful women. My kind of man. But Leaky, the perfect man, was married. Where would Jane find her Tarzan? With more research I found out Jane was not just ambitious but smart. She married a Nobleman. They became a Baron and a Baroness. That can’t hurt when you are trying to make changes that need funding in the animal world. (Note to self -STOP dating musicians.) Not to mention he saw her though his own special lens as he was her main photographer. This guy rocked her world and was the man who put those amazing pictures of her out in the universe. Were they in love? Let’s put it this way, you’re not going to meet a nobleman on tinder. So even though there was no swiping left or right, I bet there was chemistry. I bet there was mutual support and admiration. And who doesn’t want to always be shot in the best lighting? But in the end maybe he reminded her too much of her work observing chimpanzees scratching their ass and copulating with anything that walked by. I have to ponder the reason it ended, but we do know it lasted 10 years, produced a son AND she was officially now a noble woman… so I say win/win.
But now what? Would she find love again in a world of chimpanzees? Her next husband was a Royal Air Force Veteran who helped Tanzania win its independence in 1964 and was the National Parks director. Once again, not a bad match when you need land to help preserve your favorite animal. They were an incredible team. He was taken with her and drive and passion and the two married a year after they met. Unfortunately he died of cancer in 1980, but not before making sure that the land was protected where she worked. He was a huge help to the cause she gave her life to.
I want to know all about Jane’s experiences in the wild with these magnificent creatures. And I am not even talking about the chimps. She picked some pretty good men. Which makes me wonder about my choices with men. I get a weird look if I ask a man to help me walk my dogs or if he has to actually pick up the poop with a plastic bag. (deal breaker if he winces.)
Whether she married or just worked alongside the men in her life, they all seemed to care about her work and they shared the same passion for land, animals and nature. That’s a beautiful combination. When 2 or more can come together on a mission for something greater isn’t that a dream come true? A true team. Like Sonny and Cher, John Lennon And Yoko, Captain and Tenille…Okay Sonny skied into a tree, Lennon was assassinated and Tenille divorced Captain last year, but they were all couples who shared a passion together. I respect that. I never said it would last forever. What I do know, is Jane made a call that changed the course of her life, and set her in the direction of true love for man and for ape. I personally think she should change her name from Jane Goodall to Jane GoodCALL.
I think that from now on if anyone says to me “Rachel , you should really give this person a call!” I will do it in the name of Jane. I will admit though, that if it doesn’t turn into working with animals in the wild, becoming a Baroness, having someone fund my PhD, and winning a Nobel peace prize…. I might be slightly disappointed. My point to anyone reading this is to just take that step, pick up the phone and follow your heart. Make the call. You never know who might be on the other end of that phone. It might just turn into monkey business at the end of the day, but in the wild…and according the legacy she has left us with…monkey business is not such a bad thing.