Gombe Years

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Early Days

The weeks following Jane's arrival in Gombe were discouraging as the chimpanzee's were shy and fled when they noticed her. Eventually Jane found an area, now known as Jane's Peak, high on a mountain from which she could observe the behavior of the chimps without them seeing her. Jane observed many new behaviors from this spot including meat-eating and tool using. Prior to these observations chimps were thought to be vegetarian and tool use was considered a defining trait in humans. After graduating with a PhD from Cambridge University Jane went back to Gombe and started to document her observations more scientifically thus allowing her to form a more accurate image of chimp society and behavior.

For more information on Jane's early days at Gombe click here.

Family and Personal Life

Jane's first husband, Baron Hugo Van Lawick, was a well known wildlife photographer that was sent to Gombe by National Geographic to document Jane's work. Jane and Hugo married in 1964 and opened the Gombe Stream Research Center a year later in 1965, they went on to have one child nicknamed Grub. The pair divorced in 1974 and Jane went on to marry Derek Bryceson, a member of the Tanzanian Parliament.

For more information on Jane's family and personal life click here.

Scientific Discoveries

Before November 1960 scientists defined homo sapiens -- as "man, the toolmaker." However, that all changed one morning when Jane observed David Graybeard and Goliath using a small stick to get termites out of a termite mound. When Jane's mentor Louis B. Leakey heard of Jane’s discovery, he said "Now we must redefine 'man,' redefine 'tool' or accept chimpanzees as humans."

To read more about some of Jane's most notable breakthrough's click here.

Gombe Stream Research Center

Founded in 1965, by Jane Goodall and Hugo Van Lawick, Gombe Stream Research Center has become a place where students can learn about wild chimpanzees and how to study them in their natural habitat. Since it was founded researchers have continued to look at chimpanzee feeding behavior, ecology, infant development, aggression, as well as other primate species. Currently Dr. Beatrice Hahn, of the University of Alabama, is leading a critical study at Gombe. Dr. Hahn seeks to understand the natural history of HIV by looking at the factors causing transmission of the closely related simian immunodeficiency virus.

For more information on the research center at Gombe and the discoveries that have taken place there click here.


For a detailed timeline of events that have occurred at Gombe over the years click here.

To watch a retrospective on Jane's work, click here