Ribbon for Jane Goodall, who has been fighting for monkeys and nature for 60 years

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Jane Goodall (89), world famous for her research into chimpanzees, was surprised this afternoon in The Hague with a royal award. She received this award from nature minister Van der Wal for her “outstanding work” in the field of nature conservation and animal welfare around the world.

Goodall is now an officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. This award from 1892 is awarded to people who have made themselves particularly meritorious to society, for example in the field of youth, sport or the environment.

This weekend Goodall will visit the Netherlands and give lectures in which she specifically wants to reach young people. Her main message from this visit is that everyone can make a contribution to preserving nature, be it business, government or individuals. Yesterday she visited Burgers’ Zoo, where 450 young people came to see her.


For more than sixty years, Goodall has been committed to conservation and the protection of endangered species of monkeys. In the 1960s, the British primatologist traveled to Africa to study the behavior of chimpanzees. This made Goodall one of the first women in the field to research primates. She started her research based on the idea that people with this knowledge can learn something about their ancestors.

In her investigations, she challenged key primate beliefs of the time. For example, where chimpanzees were once thought to be vegetarian, Goodall found out that they hunt and eat smaller apes. She also discovered that chimpanzees make tools that help them find and obtain food – a skill that scientists believe only humans had at the time.

Goodall has been committed to community research in Tanzania and Congo for decades with her foundation Jane Goodall Institute. The institute focuses on the needs of local residents to find out what is needed to make nature conservation easier in those areas.

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Sarah Mutsaers of Apemanagement, who studies the social behavior of monkeys, follows Jane Goodall as a volunteer during her visit to the Netherlands and explains how it can be difficult in this day and age for people like Goodall to inspire people to do something for nature.

“Awareness is now more than when Jane started her work, but the perspective for action is now smaller,” she said in Max’s radio program Nieuwsweekend. “We have climate problems everywhere and that evokes fear and threat. It often leads to looking away, because they are gigantic problems, people don’t know what they can do about it themselves.”

On the other hand, Goodall puts practical solutions, also in this three-day visit, to make the problems smaller and to inspire people to make small changes, says Mutsaers. “She involves young people in this. From her organization she has a program with young people from 68 countries that focuses on starting initiatives in your own environment.”

At this afternoon’s event at the World Forum, fans of Goodall were able to gather and watch the lecture in English. The fact that she received a ribbon was a surprise to the nature activist.

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