Preserving the primates, including us Jane Goodall: The world-famous researcher of chimpanzees brings an environmental message to Magothy River Middle School.

April 10, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

When Carrie Gardner hears the name Jane Goodall, she thinks immediately of one thing.

"Baby chimpanzees," said the 13-year-old seventh-grader at Magothy River Middle School in Arnold. "With big smiles on their faces."

Carrie and about 300 of her classmates got to meet the woman who helped change the way humans look at chimpanzees yesterday when Dr. Goodall visited the school.

The pioneering primate researcher, who will lecture tonight at George Washington University's Lizner Auditorium, spent about an hour showing the children slides taken during more than 30 years of studying and caring for wild chimpanzees in Gombe, a remote town on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

But Dr. Goodall's main reason for coming to the school was to encourage the students to preserve the environment.

"It's very important to involve the children because they need to understand that what they do impacts the environment around them," she said.

Dr. Goodall, who wore a black sweat shirt emblazoned with the names of about 70 chimpanzees with whom she developed bonds, spoke out against what she called "just me-ism."

"There's a great temptation to think that what I do won't affect the world, that I'm just one of a million people in the world," she said.

But that leads to placing responsibility for solving problems on someone else, she added.

"We like to blame others, like the scientists, the politicians and the industries," Dr. Goodall said. "But we buy the products that industries make, we elect the politicians, we train the scientists. We're all involved."

She implored the students to make individual efforts to solve problems, such as donating $1 to help feed orphaned infant primates.

She also showed them three keepsakes she carries at all times; a piece of the Berlin Wall to represent change, a leaf from a tree in Nagasaki, Japan, for hope and a piece of knitted yarn made by a man with no fingers in Tanzania to represent the human spirit.

Finally, Dr. Goodall left the children with something her mother said to her when she was just a child growing up in England.

"She used to say, 'Jane, if you really want something, if you work hard, if you take advantage of the opportunities, and if you never give up, you'll find a way,' " Dr. Goodall said. "Never give up."

The students serenaded Dr. Goodall with a choral rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" for her 62nd birthday last week and gave her a box of chocolates -- a favorite of Dr. Goodall's.

"I think it's great that she would talk to everyone about what to do with the environment and animals," said Lauren Silvestri, president of the school's Student Government Association.

"We're going to be the ones in charge in the future, and we have to know that stuff."

Pub Date: 4/10/96

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