In my dream world, chimpanzees could live among us like squirrels. What would be nicer than waking up in the morning to see a chimp outside the window swinging on the phone lines? They could roll around in the grass, play with the neighbor's toddlers and, maybe if I got to be friendly with a couple, we could sit on the front porch at sundown and have a beer and a cigarette. I would look over at my newfound buddies and smile, knowing that the world is a much better place.
Some dreams are probably better left unfulfilled, though, because one of the first things that anthropologist and primate specialist Jane Goodall will tell you about chimps is that they don't make good pets (and probably even worse drinking buddies). Goodall--when not lobbying or spending time doing field research--visits the United States every fall and spring on lecture tours. The speaking engagements address the objectives of the Jane Goodall Institute, which seeks to promote awareness and research in order to improve the environment of all living things. So not only does she speak about our relationship with chimpanzees and their environment, but her lectures contain her thoughts on our relationships with one another as well.
Goodall began her career as an assistant to Dr. Louis Leakey in the Olduvai Gorge. Leakey soon sent her to the Gombe National Park in what is now Tanzania to study wild chimpanzees. It is there that she observed a chimpanzee fashioning a tool with which to collect termites for food, challenging the accepted belief that only humans used tools and launching her career. The research at Gombe continues to this day.
Jane Goodall will present "Live from National Geographic" during Southern Methodist University's Tate Lecture Series at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the McFarlin Auditorium. Tickets are $40 to $60. Call 214-768-8283. She will also sign copies of The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours at 10 a.m. Saturday at Borders, 10720 Preston Road. Call 214-363-1977.
After thinking about it, perhaps a more realistic dream would be moving to the jungle to live with the chimps like Goodall. Maybe with the support of some chimp friends I could stop drinking and smoking so much.
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