Jane Goodall-Alexandra Pereira et. al.
A Lesson on Changing the World
Alexandra Pereira, Beto Garcia, Constança Carvalho, Mariana Crespo, and Rita Castro
The Portuguese Society for Humane Education (SPEdH) is a non-profit NGO that aims to promote humane education, thus making the world a better place for all living beings. Years ago, two of our board member(Alexandra and Beto) attended a lecture by Jane Goodall in London. It was a very inspiring lecture, given in a church, and they were deeply touched by it. They decided immediately to do everything they could to bring Jane to Portugal and share her message with us.
SPEdH invited her to give a plenary lecture on the 1st International Conference of Conservation and Animal Welfare, held in Portugal in May 2006, and she accepted. After we heard Jane’s lecture then, we all had tears in our eyes, especially when she mentioned the look of despair you find in children in refugee camps and in wild animals held captive in zoos, circuses, or research labs.
This was when most of us met her for the first time. We were all very nervous and didn’t exactly know what to say. But we felt an immediate connection with Jane and also with her assistant Mary Lewis. Shortly after, we were discussing animal issues and Jane was providing us great insights.
The biggest influence we feel Jane had in our lives was teaching us the importance of empowerment. Although we were all passionate about animals before we met Jane, we didn’t know the best way to make the world a better place for us and for them. So we were inspired by Jane’s kind way of passing on her message and the simple yet powerful idea of “positive change.” This inspired us to try the same approach, and we actually can see the big difference we are making because of that.
Since 2006, we have been coordinating Roots & Shoots in Portugal, giving our best to plant and grow the seeds of that wonderful program in our country. Last June, Jane gave another lecture in Portugal, and she shared the good news that female chimpanzees were migrating to different communities using a new forest corridor planted by Roots & Shoots groups in Tanzania. Hearing that good news made us hopeful and very proud of being part of the family.
Jane has also influenced our professional lives. Some of us (Constança, Mariana, and Rita) made their graduation and master’s theses on chimpanzee behavior using only ethological methods. Jane´s experiences and discoveries were a tremendous inspiration, and we all used chimpanZoo ethograms, designed by the Jane Goodall Institute, to collect our data. Alexandra and Beto work at the second biggest animal shelter in Portugal, and they use the Roots & Shoots philosophy every day with their volunteers and keepers. To sum up, we are all very grateful to Jane for providing us with the tools to make a difference in this world. Thank you and happy birthday!
Alexandra Pereira is the veterinarian in charge of the municipal animal shelter of Sintra, Portugal. Alberto Garcia works as operations manager in the Sintra shelter. Constança Carvalho is a Roots & Shoots coordinator in Portugal. Mariana Crespo, who has studied chimpanzees and bonobos, has also worked for humane education and animal rights in Portugal. Rita de Castro became a field biologist and finished her MSc with honors on “Emotional Empathy: What Can We Expect from the Chimpanzee?”