Trinity University Press

Jane Goodall- George Archibald

Jane and the Cranes

George Archibald

    Being not all that much younger than Jane, I have had the pleasure of following her remarkable career from afar for many decades. That was until a few years ago, when through the kindness of my colleagues at Operation Migration (OM), I met Jane in the company of whooping cranes in central Wisconsin.

    Somehow Jane and the Director of OM, Joe Duff, became friends, and so Jane was visiting Joe and his staff as they trained a group of juvenile whooping cranes to follow ultra-light aircraft. The idea was that someday a person flying the ultra-light aircraft would be able to introduce the cranes to a migration route to Florida. Joe even gave Jane a flight with the cranes. I was delighted but not surprised to discover that Jane was staying in a crowded trailer with the OM crew rather than at a hotel; and because of her humility and genuine interest in nature, I immediately felt a sympathetic connection.

    A few years later through our mutual friend, the wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen, I met Jane at Tom’s cabin retreat along the Platte River, in Nebraska, where hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes gather in March during their passage to the northern breeding areas. Jane has been coming there for years. It was her retreat from a busy lecture tour in order to find a moment’s peace in nature. She told me she slept on a couch near the fireplace and a huge picture window, where she could hear and see the cranes.

    A year later I happened to be in Nebraska in early April, and was invited to celebrate Jane’s 78th birthday at Tom’s home. Several days in advance, through the kindness of my colleague Martha Krapu, I had been taken to a wetland where ten whooping cranes had been sighted. I had hoped to bring Jane there as her special birthday
present, but, alas, on her birthday Jane was scheduled to work with an editor on a new book about endangered plants. So, leaving Jane to her work, I served as Tom’s driver as he went out to photograph the whooping cranes. By the end of the day, of course, he had managed to capture several stunning images of the world’s rarest cranes. We celebrated with Jane that evening, and the next day, as I started the long drive back to Wisconsin, Jane was released from her duties long enough to join Tom and see the whooping cranes herself.

    On September 28, 2013, Jane was the guest speaker at a festive dinner in Milwaukee to celebrate the 40th
anniversary of the International Crane Foundation. Talking about how her mother encouraged Jane’s love of nature and the importance of encouraging children in the same way, Jane touched many people’s hearts in Milwaukee, as she has done for so many years around the world.

    In 1973, George Archibald and a colleague founded the International Crane Foundation. Today, from a 240-acre campus and with a staff of 40, ICF promotes the welfare of all 15 species of cranes through many creative programs.