Photo: Sheila Gifford

Environmental crusader

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By Sheila Gifford

Jane Goodall’s “environmental citizenship” crusade hit Ryerson last week — chimpanzees not included.

Goodall, a leading authority on chimpanzees, spoke of her more than 35 years’ work in the jungles of Tanzania, Africa last Thursday, March 19 at Ryerson’s annual psychology lecture.

“We in the West are continuing to rape the last of Africa’s forests,” Goodall said. “We don’t have long to act if we want to save the planet as we know it today.

“We suffer from what I call me-ism,” she said of people who only think of themselves and aren’t concerned about the future.

The 64-year-old Goodall spoke of her 1957 trip to East Africa to study wildlife. There she found “the closest thing to paradise I will ever find,” but at the same time discovered the gruesome African chimpanzee black market.

This prompted her to change her focus from studying chimps to saving them.

“At the turn of the century, there were an estimated 2 million chimpanzees in Africa,” said Goodall. “Now there may be 250,000.”

Goodall said chimpanzees are vanishing and face extinction because of “logging or the relentless mushrooming growth of humans.” Other dangers to chimps are poaching, human diseases, research labs and blackmarket businesses, Goodall said.

“They’re in conditions worse than where we keep our hardened criminals,” Goodall said of the cages where research labs and circuses store chimpanzees.

Goodall said what gives ehr hope are the intelligence of the human brain, the resilience of nature, the energy and commitment of young people and the human spirit.

At the end of the lecture, Goodall and Canadian artist Ron Suchiu presented the psychology department with a painting of Goodall and a chimpanzee entitled “To Touch And Angel.”

 

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