Published: Dec. 1, 2015 By

Jane Goodall

Humans gifted with amazing brain, she says: “Let’s use it.”

Jane Goodall makes opportunities. Then she multiplies them.

When the celebrated primatologist came to Boulder in October, she planted trees with K-8 students in the morning and addressed more than 8,700 adoring fans at CU-Boulder in the evening. The next day she went to jail.

That would be the Boulder County Jail, where Goodall visited with prisoners involved in its Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots program, established by Marc Bekoff, a Goodall collaborator and CU-Boulder professor emeritus. Roots & Shoots is a community action program focused on people, animals and the environment.

Goodall, who is 81, travels a lot — about 300 days a year — in a heroic effort to promote conservation of Earth’s natural wonders.

“I know that my days on Earth are numbered,” she told the crowd at Coors Events Center Oct. 1, which she noted was World Vegetarian Day. “I have to not slow down but speed up.”

Goodall stopped in Boulder halfway through her latest North American tour, which began Sept. 9 in Alberta, Canada, and ended Oct. 27 in Washington, D.C.

At CU she delivered the 50th George Gamow Memorial Lecture, drawing the largest audience in the talk’s history. She told bits of her life story, paying special homage to her mother, who encouraged her to pursue a life in science at a time when few women did, and of her pioneering work with Louis Leakey and chimpanzees in Tanzania.

She also told stories about animals, the environment and the interconnectedness of living things, warning of threats to them all.

And she posed questions: “If we’re the most intellectual creature ever to walk the surface of the planet Earth, how come we’re destroying it?”

Then Jane Goodall signed autographs until midnight.

Photography © Morten Bjarnhof GANT