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Review: Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE is ‘Celebrating at 90’ at the Beacon Theatre

On April 1st, Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, hosted “Celebrating at 90” at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. Photo Credit: Stuart Clarke
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. Photo Credit: Stuart Clarke

On April 1st, Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, hosted “Celebrating at 90” at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. This conversation was moderated by Ira Flatow from the National Public Radio (NPR).

As soon as she took the Beacon Theatre stage, she was greeted with a lengthy standing ovation. “Thank you for an amazing welcome,” she said, effusively.

Her actual birthday will fall on April 3rd (in two days), where a worldwide celebration will take place for this trailblazing icon in primatology and anthropology. “In two days, I’ll be 90,” she admitted. “I’m still fit; that’s due to good genes, I take no credit for that.”

She went on to express her gratitude to the children that gathered in the Beacon Theatre audience to see her. “Thank you all, good evening to all of you,” she said, and acknowledged her friends that were in the audience, as well as the Jane Goodall Institute staff, donors, and volunteers.

Dr. Goodall on the Jane Goodall Institute

Speaking of the Jane Goodall Institute, it is a worldwide nonprofit conservation organization that was founded in 1977 to advance the vision and work of Dr. Goodall. She hopes that this presentation will inspire others to add their own story to the tapestry of hope.

Her mission is to inspire hope through action around the world in an effort to protect giant apes and vital ecosystems, in order to create a better world for all. “We are part of an ecosystem, and we depend on healthy ecosystems,” she said.

Dr. Goodall on Roots & Shoots

She will also be raising funds for her other nonprofit Roots & Shoots, which is the youth action program of her institute. “Young people are making a difference every day with their energy, passion, and commitment,” she said.

She acknowledged that there are two “Janes,” one is the person and the other is the icon. “This Jane has a job of keeping up with the icon,” she said with a sweet laugh.

Dr. Goodall opens up about her humble beginnings and her love for animals

Dr. Goodall took her audience on a trip down memory lane to the beginnings. She had a love for animals from the very start, and her mother nurtured that love that young Jane had for them at an early age.

She revealed would spend hours in her garden studying earthworms, insects, and simply watching animals.

Dr. Goodall on her influences in life

She shared that was mentored by Dr. Louis Leakey. While she did well in school, at the time, she noted that she couldn’t afford going to a university. Before TV and film, she would read library books to expand her knowledge on animals.

So instead, she took a job as a “boring secretary” in London yet that job introduced her on how to make films so it came in “very useful” and it “really helped” her career.

Perhaps an even more influential person in her life than Dr. Leaky was her mother, whom she praised as “amazing.” “I share my mom’s message and I wish she knew how many people she has inspired,” she reflected.

Her dream was to go to Africa, study the wildlife there, and write books about it. “I love writing a scientific way and thinking in that way,” she acknowledged.

Dr. Goodall on her career-defining moment: ‘Wounda’s journey’

She revealed that one of her proudest professional moments was being a part of a chimp Wounda’s journey, and she showed that video clip to her New York audience. “That was an unbelievable moment,” she recalled. “Wounda and I had an electric connection.”

Dr. Goodall told us that chimps and humans share 98.7 percent of the same DNA. “They also use nonverbal communication skills such as kissing, shaking their fists, and holding hands,” she said.

Dr. Goodall on the future of our ecosystem

While the ecosystems are starting to collapse (due to climate change), Dr. Goodall feels that “this is something that we need to address.” “If we work together, we can slow down climate change and restore biodiversity,” she said.

“At the same time, the animals that are on the brink of extinction might be given a chance,” she added.

“While our humanity is in crisis, if we think in collective terms and work together, then we can make a difference,” she said.

She is optimistic in that there can be harmony in nature, especially if everybody does their part. “When nature suffers, we suffer, and at the same token, when nature flourishes, we flourish,” she said.

A silver lining is that we are finding ways to make a positive change in our ecosystem with “renewable energy,” and by “possessing an indomitable human spirit,” especially children.

Most recently, she had a 90-dog salute in honor of her upcoming birthday, an event that was hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Network.

Q & A session with the New York audience

Dr. Goodall was gracious enough to take some questions from the Manhattan audience, several of which came from children.

A child asked what her favorite dog is, and she revealed that it is a “mutt.” Her main preference is “rescuing dogs from shelters.”

Speaking of dogs, she dubbed her childhood dog “Rusty” as a “teacher” when she was younger, and she was able to prove to scientists that animals do indeed have emotions and personalities.

“We, as humans, are not the only beings with personalities and emotions, and now, science gradually has come to accept that,” she said.

In fact, she shared that “bonds between mother animals and their offspring can last throughout a lifetime.” “I loved watching these bonds develop,” she noted.

Dr. Goodall on what she wants her legacy to be

On the future of the Jane Goodall Institute in the next decade, she responded, “I hope that the Jane Goodall Institute, and all 25 of them around the world, will all be raising more money to do all these projects to make the world a better place.”

“I have a Legacy Foundation and I hope that they will carry on the work that I am doing after I die,” she said, and that answer was met with a raucous response from the Big Apple crowd.

Dr. Goodall serenaded to ‘Happy Birthday’ at the Beacon Theatre

A neat moment was when a cake was brought on stage for her, and the audience serenaded her to the good ole fashioned “Happy Birthday.” In addition, fans can use the hashtags #GoodAllDay and #JaneAt90 to join this global birthday celebration for Dr. Goodall virtually.

“Thank you for coming out tonight,” she expressed.

“I had a great opportunity to see the amazing Dr. Jane Goodall and hear her stories at the Beacon Theatre,” Penny Douskalis, fan and attendee said. “Her presence on stage was educational, inspiring and captivating. She was a great storyteller and it was an honor to see her in person.”

“It was an extraordinary experience to watch Jane Goodall’s incredible recap of her 90 years of becoming an icon here at the Beacon Theatre,” photographer Laura Desantis-Olsson acknowledged.

The Verdict

Overall, Dame Jane Goodall’s special event at the Beacon Theatre was insightful and motivational. She commanded the audience’s attention for its entire duration.

The whole lecture was food for thought. Even before the presentation began, there were quiz questions on the videoboard on such topics as “how do chimps make and use tools?” (The answer: stems, leaves, twigs and rocks for feeding, drinking, cleaning, and for weapons).

The videos she showed were stimulating, and the crowd knew that they were in the presence of greatness.

To learn more about Dr. Jane Goodall, visit her official homepage and follow her on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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