Trinity University Press

Jane Goodall-Donald M. Broom

Jane in the Early Days

Donald M. Broom

    Two kinds of behavioral studies were being conducted at the University of Cambridge when Jane Goodall and I did our Ph.D work there. One kind involved data collection in Cambridge and the other was carried out in a remote place where the wild animals lived. Jane’s study of the chimpanzees at Gombe was a pioneering example of the latter. When she was in Cambridge and afterwards, her devotion to the animals she studied was apparent to all. She wanted to conserve the species and she wanted people to consider the individual animals and their welfare.

    In the 1960s, however, neither conservation nor animal welfare were thought of as academic disciplines. The scientific community accepted studies of how animals functioned, although animal behavior was considered a relatively unscientific aspect of this at the time. It was also possible to work on the biology of animal populations. But the conservation of habitats and charismatic species was the province of charities and not considered to be part of science. This was frustrating to Jane who realized early in her career that wild primates were greatly threatened by human activities. Conservation was much discussed by biologists in Cambridge and elsewhere, and soon enough conservation science did develop. However, Jane’s campaigning in the area was initially supported by individual scientists rather than by science in general. It was also appreciated by many of the public around the world.

    The interest that Jane and I share in animal welfare was also influenced by the Cambridge environment whilst we were working there. The Director of Animal Behaviour in Cambridge in the 1950s and 1960s was W. H. Thorpe, my supervisor. Bill Thorpe was a member of the committee that produced the Brambell Report in 1965. Thorpe advocated in the Brambell Report that the needs of animals are an important part of their biology and should be considered whenever conditions are provided for animals or when humans have influence on animals. Although neither Jane nor I knew it then, this focus on animal needs was to be very influential in the later development of animal welfare science.

    Donald M. Broom, Professor of Animal Welfare at Cambridge University from 1986 to 2009, developed concepts and methods for the scientific assessment of animal welfare; he also studied cognition in domestic animals.