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Jane Goodall Reflects on Her Work in the Wild

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JANE GOODALL'S 30 years of work with the chimpanzees in Tanzania constitutes the longest unbroken study of a single animal species in the wild. In a telephone interview, she spoke on a number of issues related to her efforts.

How much resistance is there still to your using terms to describe the chimp behavior that have been normally reserved for describing humans?

There still are some ``pure'' ethologists who will not ascribe human emotions to animals. It strikes me as so peculiar when some people wax eloquent on the similarities of the brain, central nervous system, and composition of the blood. How is it that they can be so resistant to the fact that there are likely to be similarities in emotion? It occurs to me to ask, why should it be up to us to prove similarity before we treat these animals differently, instead of up to the hard-liners to prove dissimilarity? Although I think in their heart of hearts almost all of them accept the [emotional] similarities.

You say in your book that scientists have sometimes dismissed your observations as ``anecdotes.'' At what point do ``anecdotes'' become evidence?

It depends on the scientist. Some branches easily accept anecdotes, really, now. But what is an anecdote? It's really an observation that's been seen once or twice. The fact that it has only been seen once or twice in no way diminishes it as an observation. These observations are so valuable when you're talking about creatures as complex as chimps. I was once criticized for publishing the [chimps] brutal warfare attacks. I was accused of trying to get publicity. To me, five battles with nine individuals was a lot. Suppose it had only been two, and I hadn't published. Then someone else sees two somewhere else. We need to look at the whole picture of what is going on and if no one publishes these observations, we will miss a whole range of behavior that may not happen that often.


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