40 Thought-Provoking Dr. Jane Goodall Quotes

Born on April 3, 1934, in London, the young Jane Goodall purchased a second-hand book about Tarzan when she was ten. Encouraged by her mother to follow her dream, she went when she was 29 to what is now Tanzania to study the native chimpanzees. Here experiences there, contained in half a century of work, brought some of the biggest contributions to 20th century science.

Now Dame Jane Goodall, she is a United Nations Messenger of Peace and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research Education and Conservation. Her words inspire many to think about conservation and compassion for all living beings.


Jane Goodall’s Most Intriguing Quotes

  1. “My job now is to try and help people understand every one of us makes a difference. And cumulatively, wise choices in how we act each day can begin to change the world.”
  2. “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”
  3. “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.”
  4. “Here we are, the most clever species ever to have lived. So how is it we can destroy the only planet we have?”
  5. “In all my lectures and books, I focus on reasons for hope. But today, it’s getting harder and harder to take that message of hope around the world. Todays’ young people—everywhere I go—they’re so excited and empowered. We’re listening to their voices. That gives us a reason to hope.”
  6. “ In order to slow down climate change, we must solve four seemingly unsolvable problems. We must eliminate poverty. We must change the unsustainable lifestyles of so many of us. We must abolish corruption. And we must think about our growing human population…But I believe we have a window of time to have an impact.”
  7. “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
  8. “A sense of calm came over me. More and more often I found myself thinking, “This is where I belong. This is what I came into this world to do.”
  9. “Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?”
  10. “We can’t leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world’s people, while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.”
  11. “And always I have this feeling–which may not be true at all–that I am being used as a messenger.”
  12. “…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 the His planet?”
  13. “Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.”
  14. “Cultural speciation had been crippling to human moral and spiritual growth. It had hindered freedom of thought, limited our thinking, imprisoned us in the cultures into which we had been born. . . . These cultural mind prisons. . . . Cultural speciation was clearly a barrier to world peace. So long as we continued to attach more importance to our own narrow group membership than to the ‘global village’ we would propagate prejudice and ignorance.”
  15. “If we all get together, we can truly make a difference, but we must act now. The window of time is closing.”
  16. “We find animals doing things that we, in our arrogance, used to think was “just human”.”
  17. “Fortunately, nature is amazingly resilient: places we have destroyed, given time and help, can once again support life, and endangered species can be given a second chance. And there is a growing number of people, especially young people, who are aware of these problems and are fighting for the survival of our only home, Planet Earth. We must all join that fight before it is too late.”
  18. “And I thought how sad it was that, for all our sophisticated intellect, for all our noble aspirations, our aggressive behavior was not just similar in many ways to that of the chimpanzees – it was even worse. Worse because human beings have the potential to rise above their baser instincts, whereas chimpanzees probably do not.”
  19. “But let us not forget that human love and compassion are equally deeply rooted in our primate heritage, and in this sphere too our sensibilities are of a higher order of magnitude than those of chimpanzees.”
  20. “The least I can do is speak out for the hundreds of chimpanzees who, right now, sit hunched, miserable and without hope, staring out with dead eyes from their metal prisons. They cannot speak for themselves.”
  21. “So, let us move forward with faith in ourselves, in our intelligence, in our indomitable spirit. Let us develop respect for all living things. Let us try to replace violence and intolerance with understanding and compassion and love.”
  22. “If I were a bird that needs feathers to fly higher, my mother would be my strongest feather. She was extremely supportive. When I was one and a half, I took a whole handful of earthworms to bed with me. My mother said very quietly, “Jane, they will die if they leave the earth.” And so, together, we put them back into the garden.”
  23. “At that moment there was no need of any scientific knowledge to understand his communication of reassurance. The soft pressure of his fingers spoke to me not through my intellect but through a more primitive emotional channel: the barrier of untold centuries which has grown up during the separate evolution of man and chimpanzee was, for those few seconds, broken down.It was a reward far beyond my greatest hopes.”
  24. “That is our hope. Because if we all start listening and helping, then surely, together, we can make the world a better place for all living things. Can’t we?”
  25. “To me, cruelty is the worst of human sins. Once we accept that a living creature has feelings and suffers pain, then by knowingly and deliberately inflicting suffering on that creature, we are guilty, whether it be human or animal.”
  26. “If we kill off the wild, then we are killing a part of our souls.”
  27. “Chimpanzees, more than any other living creature, have helped us to understand that there is no sharp line between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s a very blurry line, and it’s getting more blurry all the time.”
  28. Let us develop respect for all living things. Let us try to replace violence and intolerance with understanding and compassion. And love.”
  29. “I well remember writing to Louis about my first observations, describing how David Graybeard not only used bits of straw to fish for termites but actually stripped leaves from a stem and thus made a tool. And I remember too receiving the now oft-quoted telegram he sent in response to my letter: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.
  30. “I do have reasons for hope: our clever brains, the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit, and above all, the commitment of young people when they’re empowered to take action.”
  31. “Any little thing that brings us back into communion with the natural world and the spiritual power that permeates all life will help us to move a little further along the path of human moral and spiritual evolution.”
  32. “The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
  33. “Only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our true potential.”
  34. “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.”
  35. “Chimpanzees, gorillas, 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.”
  36. “We have so far to go to realize our human potential for compassion, altruism, and love.”
  37. “Farm animals are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined and, despite having been bred as domestic slaves, they are individual beings in their own right. As such, they deserve our respect. And our help. Who will plead for them if we are silent?”
  38. “What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions, a consequence of our sophisticated spoken language.”
  39. “One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.”
  40. “And if we dare to look into those eyes, then we shall feel their suffering in our hearts. More and more people have seen that appeal and felt it in their hearts. All around the world there is an awakening of understanding and compassion, and understanding that reaches out to help the suffering animals in their vanishing homelands. That embraces hungry, sick, and desperate human beings, people who are starving while the fortunate among us have so much more than we need. And if, one by one, we help them, the hurting animals, the desperate humans, then together we shall alleviate so much of the hunger, fear, and pain in the world. Together we can bring change to the world, gradually replacing fear and hatred with compassion and love. Love for all living beings.”
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Jane Goodall Quote Summary

Jane Goodall offers hope for a more aware and compassionate world. She sees young people as those who can bring us all a better future in which we can become more appreciative of every living being.

These quotes remind us all that we have a responsibility to change what we can, every day, to create a better world; a world in which animals and humans are no longer harmed and they suffer no more.

Image Credit: Mark Schierbecker / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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