The Jane Goodall Factor

Nov 1, 2012

Too many times to count I am asked why do I focus on helping animals when so many people in the world are suffering. The comment usually comes at our events where we are celebrating the human/animal bond. I have always been passionate about helping animals and never felt the need to explain. But the comment seems to be so easily thrown out without any actual thought process and I’m starting to see the need to explain. One day I hope I will be able to explain it all as eloquently as Jane Goodall.

“Anyone who tries to improve the lives of animals invariably comes in for criticism from those who believe that such efforts are misplaced in a world of suffering humanity. Certainly this was the opinion of a woman I met while on tour in America. It happened to be my birthday and I was enjoying a small surprise party. The sun was shining and the spring flowers brought a smile to one’s heart. Suddenly my hostess came up, concerned, to point out a tight-faced woman who had just arrived. “She has a daughter with a heart problem,” I was informed. “She’s been told her daughter is only alive because of experimental work on dogs. She belongs to People for Animal Experimentation. I was familiar with that group and was glad I had been warned. I expected trouble and, indeed, the woman approached me soon afterward and proceeded to tear strips off me. If I had my way, her daughter would have died. People like me made her sick. It was quite a vicious verbal attack and the people around us drew back, embarrassed. When finally, I could get a word in I told her my mother had a pic valve in her heart. It was from a commercially slaughtered hog, but the procedure had been worked out with pigs in a laboratory. “I happen to love pigs,” I told her. “They are quite as intelligent as dogs – often more so. I just feel terribly grateful to the pig who saved my mother’s life, and to the pigs who may have suffered to make the operation possible. So I want to do all I can to improve conditions for pigs – in the labs and on the farms. Don’t you feel grateful to the dogs who saved your daughter? Wouldn’t you like to support efforts to find alternatives so that no more dogs – or pigs – need to be used in the future?” (Reason for Hope)

Jane Goodall has had a profound impact on my life and I like to call it the Jane Goodall Factor.

“I am fortunate in that I had an extremely wise and supportive mother who nurtured my early passion for all life and allowed me to surround myself with a variety of animals. Once when I was sixteen months old, she came to say goodnight and found me watching, absolutely entranced, something on my pillow. Coming closer, she saw a small collection of wriggling earthworms. Instead of scolding, she told me quietly that they’d die without earth. I gathered them up quickly she said, and toddled with them to the garden. I learned from nature, spending all my free time outside. When I was four years old, we went to a farm for a holiday. There I helped t collect the hens’ eggs. There were no cruel battery cages in those days. I could not work out where the egg came from – where was there a hold that size? So I hid in one of the henhouses to find out. For four hours. Again, despite her concern (the family had called the police) my mother, when finally she saw me rushing to the house all excited, sat down to hear the wonderful story of how a hen lays an egg.” (Reason for Hope)