Five Jane Goodall Quotes to Reflect on

Five Jane Goodall Quotes to Reflect on
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 20 January, 2023

These Jane Goodall quotes have a wonderful purpose: to restore human beings’ respect towards nature. One of her goals has always been for people to take another look at themselves. Specifically, to come down from their proud pedestal and understand that species like primates also have emotions, intelligence, empathy, and a social system.

In addition to being a primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN peacekeeper, Jane Goodall is a legend. At 84 years old, she still wears her characteristic ponytail and has that serene smile and sensitive look of someone who observes the world with a childish curiosity. She’s also one of the most revolutionary scientists in history.

“I like some animals more than some people, some people more than some animals.”

-Jane Goodall-

50 years ago, Jane Goodall challenged the world and the mostly skeptic scientific community by showing that animals are also intelligent. What’s more, despite popular thinking, her field of study isn’t limited to chimpanzees. Another passion of this English ethologist is bird watching. She was one of the first people to speak about how mammals and birds are capable of more advanced thinking. For example, some animals are able to plan and solve simple problems, build tools to get food, or organize themselves in social structures.

Her theoretical contributions have impacted many different academic fields such as psychology. Concepts like self-consciousness, empathy, altruism, or deception are no longer attributes exclusive to the human race.

Jane Goodall and a primate.

Jane Goodall quotes to reflect on

Jane Goodall showed us how closely related we are to the great primates. What’s more, for this ethologist and primatologist, the only thing that differentiates us from them is language. With this in mind, human beings should reflect and define themselves in many aspects.

Let’s take a look at some of Jane Goodall’s quotes that mostly come from her books, such as In the Shadow of Man, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, and My Life with the Chimpanzees.

1. Animals have feelings

“You cannot share your life with a dog, as I had done in Bournemouth, or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities, minds, and feelings.”

-Jane Goodall-

We said it at the beginning. Jane Goodall’s contributions to psychology are also remarkable. In fact, she’s emphasized the need to study animal psychology since primates aren’t the only animals that show intelligence. Namely, other animals also have social intelligence, complex emotions, and a mind that is aware of itself.

Even our most common pets, such as dogs or cats, have personalities. Consequently, they have emotional needs and a level of empathy that’s not only capable of connecting with their own species, but also with ours.

2. It doesn’t matter who you are, but what you are capable of doing

“…it honestly didn’t matter how we humans got to be the way we are, whether evolution or special creation was responsible. What mattered and mattered desperately was our future development. Were we going to go on destroying God’s creation, fighting each other, hurting the other creatures of His planet?”

-Jane Goodall-

This is one of the most interesting Jane Goodall quotes. In it, we find an idea that many other current anthropologists also believe in. The scientific community is obsessed with being able to explain our evolutionary past.

For Jane Goodall, that doesn’t matter. What is relevant is what we do with our lives in the present moment.

Some Jane Goodall quotes come from her activist conferences.

3. Harmony in the animal world, discord in the civilized world

“Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.”

-Jane Goodall-

Without a doubt, this is another wonderful reflection that speaks for itself. No animal would ever destroy its own home. Making has torn down trees, burned grasslands, destroyed savannas, polluted rivers, and littered oceans, among other things. We consider animals to be wild, yet all they do is live in harmony. However, we do the opposite.

4. Protect nature for the sake of our own mental health

“Well, it’s been shown several times that contact with nature is actually important for psychological development and so children who are in a concrete jungle with, as you say, little opportunity to learn about the natural world, or equally children everywhere who are glued to their computer screens and computer games. I mean, you know this is becoming really frightening. What can we do about it?”

-Jane Goodall-

Jane Goodall continues to raise awareness of the importance of conserving forests. Her goal is to protect nature and wildlife. However, she points out that our psychological well-being is at stake as well.

Nature is not only life, but it’s what makes life possible as well.

5. We have a responsibility

“When you meet chimps you meet individual personalities. When a baby chimp looks at you it’s just like a human baby. We have a responsibility to them.”

-Jane Goodall-

This is undoubtedly another mythical Jane Goodall quote. We have a responsibility to the many species we’re displacing from their habitats due to our insatiable greed. We do it to produce palm oil, to exploit our natural resources, and to destroy lands to get essential minerals for the technological industry.

Jane Goodall quotes teach us about more than just chimps.

We’re causing irreparable damage to our planet, to the animals, and also to ourselves. Messages like the ones in this article can help us become more aware and open our eyes. They help us get off of our proud evolutionary pedestal to look at ourselves with more humility. Above all, we should start looking at other animals as our brothers and co-inhabitants of Earth, a planet which we don’t take care of as well as we should.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.