Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (2002) Movie Script

I was the least likely
candidate for the job.
I'd never even seen
a wild chimpanzee.
Looking back, it seems almost silly
that I was chosen to come here.
Those first few months at Gombe
were by far the most frustrating.
I could hear the chimps calling
in the forest around me,
but they never let me
get close to them
I was afraid that my
money would run out
before I'd seen
anything important,
and the project would
be deemed a failure.
But, I refused to give up.
Fortunately, I'm quite
pigheaded by nature.
Every morning I would leave camp
and follow the same path
I'd climb the same hill
and sit in the same spot...
and hope...
Running around and chasing after
something unsuccessfully is one thing,
but sitting still and contemplating
failure is a whole lot worse.
But then one day,
it happened
I could see them on the other side
of the valley watching me
Then they'd come closer
and perch in the trees,
looking down at me.
Finally, they came right down
onto the ground
I knew that I'd
finally been accepted
the first time a mother
let her infant chimp
actually come right up to me
I called that
little chimpanzee fifi
and our friendship
has lasted over 40 years
Africa has been my home
for most of my life
After a long trip away,
I still get a tremendous
surge of excitement
when I finally glimpse
the beautiful beaches of Gombe.
In 1960, famed anthropologist
Dr. Louis leakey
sent 26-year-old
Jane Goodall to Tanzania
to study wild chimpanzees.
What she discovered
would change
not only our understanding
of chimpanzees,
but ultimately of
human behavior itself.
What do you call it?
The tiny Gombe Research Station
that we started from scratch in the '60s
now seems enormous to me.
There are 15 full-time
research assistants,
most of them local Tanzanians,
and many have
brought up their families here.
My good friend
Dr. Shadrack Kamenya,
is the director.
- Welcome back.
- How's your family?
Elizabeth Lonsdorf
is an American zoologist,
about the age I was
when I first arrived at Gombe.
How was your trip?
There are many wonderful
dedicated people here,
and there is still
so much more to learn.
When I first come back
to Gombe, I like to be alone.
To me, this is
an enchanted forest,
the Garden of Eden.
Gombe National Park
is a tiny pristine oasis
a mere ten miles long
and two miles wide
nestled against the shore
of Lake Tanganyika.
My love of animals began
when I was a little girl.
I dreamed of going to Africa.
In fact, I fell passionately
in love with Tarzan.
He had that wretched wife Jane.
Tarzan, of course,
never materialized,
but I had found something,
much, much better.
Among all
the living creatures at Gombe,
there is perhaps
only one single individual
who has been here longer
than Jane Goodall herself,
and that is Fifi the chimpanzee.
This is the very same Fifi that
reached out as an infant to touch me.
At 43, she's the matriarch
of her community.
Like myself, She's become
a mother and a grandmother,
though her children
outnumber mine eight to one.
Thank God for that
Flirt is Fifi's eighth child,
and she's doing very well indeed.
Fifi is the most successful
mother we've ever had here,
and many of her offspring
have become high-ranking in their community
Fifi's 22-year-old son Frodo
is a good example.
Frodo has risen to become
the dominant, or alpha,
male of his group.
He's the biggest chimpanzee
I've ever seen at Gombe,
and he's a bully.
He rules by brute force.
Even I have to
be careful around Frodo.
He loves to throw rocks,
especially to me.
Gremlin is my
very favorite chimpanzee.
She has twins at the moment...
Golden and Glitter.
They're only the third
set of twins ever seen here.
It's hard enough for a mother
to look after one baby at a time,
and no twins have
survived this long before.
But Gremlin is
the perfect mother,
and she has the perfect helper
in her five-year-old daughter Gaia.
She's like a little angel,
helping to raise the twins.
Young Titan is the result
of an entirely different
style of upbringing.
He had an often
indifferent mother,
and now he seems crave
constant attention, good or bad.
The other chimps in the community
provide it, whether they like it or not
Right from the start I decided
to give each chimp a name
in order to keep track
of who was who,
of who was
doing what to whom.
I didn't know that this was simply
not done in the scientific community,
I should have
numbered them instead.
How lucky that
turned out to be.
Equipped with their own names,
many of the chimps have
become celebrities around the world
and found their way
into people's hearts.
Jane's work with the chimpanzees
made Gombe National Park famous
by the mid-1960s.
Research programs were
expanded to include
several other inhabitants,
like the red colobus monkey.
But it was the highly complex
social behavior of the baboon
that attracted the most
attention from scientists,
second only
to the chimpanzee.
If I'd come to Gombe
and never found any chimps,
I would have been perfectly
happy to study baboons.
On the surface,
they seem quite similar.
They're both primates,
they're roughly the same size,
and they both live
in complex social communities.
But when you look deeper,
they couldn't be more different
Chimpanzees have stayed
pretty much to the forest
and couldn't really
survive anywhere else,
while the baboons
are very adaptable
and have conquered
a wide variety of habitats.
But one thing
they do have in common
is their love of play.
Since their paths often cross
and they eat much the same foods,
conflicts between these
distant cousins are not uncommon.
But among the young at heart,
a row can easily
turn into a romp.
Baboons and chimpanzees
are among the few animals
known to play together
in the wild.
Just when
everybody's having fun,
out of nowhere comes Frodo
to spoil everything.
After a period of chaos,
there follows
a process of appeasement
where homage must
be paid to the king.
Social grooming is
the most important way
for chimpanzees to maintain
their relationships and alliances.
Most alpha males will return
the favor to their loyal subjects,
but Frodo rarely grooms
anyone but himself.
brutal as he may be,
Frodo has a soft
and gentle side as well.
During the day, chimpanzees are
content to spend time on the ground.
But as evening approaches,
they seek the safety of the trees.
They make their way high above
to begin building nests
for the coming night,
driven, perhaps, by an ancient
memory from the distant past
Primates first appeared
in the fossil record
over 50 million years ago.
The lemurs represent some
of the earliest primates still living.
Monkeys and baboons occupy
a different limb of the family tree,
with nearly 200 species
around the world.
Around 20 million years ago,
a new group emerged...
...the apes including
the siamang and the gibbon.
And then
there are the great apes...
The orangutans of the Pacific,
the gorillas of central Africa,
and the chimpanzees.
All primates have
a common genetic heritage.
But chimpanzees share
an incredible 98.5% of their DNA
with an altogether
different ape-
homo sapiens... us.
American biologist
Elizabeth Lonsdorf
spends as much time trying
to keep up to the chimpanzees
as she does
studying their behavior.
Even after more than 40 years
of uninterrupted research at Gombe,
there are still many
unanswered questions.
We've never known the fathers
of the chimps born at Gombe,
because mothers typically mate
with more than one male.
Now advances in DNA testing
have allowed us to figure out
who the father is
just by taking
a simple fecal sample.
One of my objectives
is to figure out
how much active teaching
is going on.
Is the mother consciously
demonstrating what she knows,
or is the infant simply observing
what the mother would do normally?
Now that we have the benefit
of video to work with,
we're able to analyze behavior
in much finer detail.
So on this day I was just out
with Gremlin and the twins.
- That's Goldie
- This is Goldie.
- Yeah, with her little beard.
- And Glitter.
It's exciting to know there's a new
generation of researchers at Gombe,
like Shadrack and Elizabeth,
studying a whole new generation
of chimpanzees.
Steal from Mum.
Because of the risk
of the chimpanzees
catching human diseases,
we try to keep more of a distance
between us than we used to.
With chimps like Titan,
it's better not to get
too close anyway.
Around the big males,
Titan gets put in his place.
When he's with the females
and younger chimps,
it's a different story.
Something or other... Titan.
- He's a thug.
With Titan around, you never know
what's going to happen next
Titan is good with rocks,
but is careful to aim them at us
and not at one of the full-grown males.
I wasn't at all surprised
when the DNA analysis revealed
that Titan is, in fact,
Frodo's son.
Frodo has always been
extremely aggressive.
He rose to alpha male status
by ruthlessly wielding
his great strength,
and the other males of the group are
understandably wary of his presence.
Goblin, too,
was once alpha male,
but now in his old age
he wisely keeps a low profile.
Chimp politics are merciless.
Frodo deposed
his own brother Freud
to rise to power.
But despite their rivalries, the males
band together to defend their territory,
regularly patrolling the perimeter
on the lookout for intruders
from neighboring communities.
After 14 years at Gombe,
it had become
increasingly obvious
how much like us
the chimpanzees were.
But in the back of my mind,
I'd nursed the notion
that we humans had
somehow taken the wrong turn.
It seemed that the chimpanzees
were much kinder
and more gentle than we were.
Therefore, I was totally unprepared
for what happened next
The brothers,
Hugh and Charlie,
my old friend Goliath...
all gone.
My Garden of Eden
almost overnight
had become a very,
very dark forest indeed.
They were more like us than
I could ever possibly have imagined.
What Jane had witnessed
was all-out war
between Fifi's community
and a splinter group to the south.
By the time it was over,
the entire southern population
had been annihilated.
I have seen so much
here at Gombe...
political intrigue, cruelty, war,
but also love, compassion,
and even humor.
Over the years, the perceived gap
between humans and chimpanzees
had become smaller
and smaller.
Every time I think
I understand chimpanzee behavior,
they do something that takes me
completely by surprise.
What Jane encountered,
almost by accident,
turned out to be one of
the most important discoveries
in the history of biology.
I was walking
through the forest
when I spotted a hunched figure
through the vegetation.
He had his back to me,
but I could see him stripping
the leaves off a small twig,
then busying himself around
he top of a termite mound.
I could see him pushing the twig
into a hole in the mound.
I had no idea
what he was up to.
But then he pulled out the twig
and expertly picked a few
termites off it with his lips.
I was mesmerized.
I knew that
what he had just done
was considered at the time
to be outright impossible.
A mere nonhuman
had just fabricated
a clever and effective tool
right before my very eyes.
When Jane first described
the ability
to make and use tools
was considered one
of the defining features
that set humans apart from
the rest of the animal kingdom.
We were known
as "Man the Tool Maker."
In what has become
a famous quote,
Dr. Louis Leakey
wrote to Jane
that, "Now we will
have to redefine tool,
"redefine man,
or accept chimpanzees
as humans."
I've since discovered
that all the Gombe chimpanzees
know how to termite-fish.
Predictably, Titan doesn't have
the patience to stick with it for long.
The chimpanzees have
even figured out a way
to fish for
the vicious army ants.
I had been bitten
by these ants,
and it is a really
painful experience.
And yet
even a little chimp like Gaia
is an expert when it comes
to fishing for them,
something she learned
from her mother Gremlin.
What's so fascinating
about all of this
is that this technique of ant-fishing
is unique to the Gombe chimpanzees,
a learned behavior passed down
from parents to children.
This is not instinctive.
This is culture
in the true sense of the word,
knowledge that flows from
one generation to the next
Every chimpanzee community
has a unique set of
traditional behaviors.
Some are practical,
others are simply rituals,
the meaning of which
we can only guess.
Following in Jane's footsteps,
researchers have studied groups
of chimpanzees all across Africa,
and they have discovered
a whole range
of culturally distinct behaviors.
At Gombe, males
sometimes grab a branch
above their heads
while grooming.
A hundred miles further south,
males clasp hands
instead of grasping a branch.
Each group has adopted its own
version of this grooming ritual.
The calls of chimpanzees
within a community
are distinct from
other communities.
They seem to imitate each other
to create a group dialect
In some parts of Africa,
chimpanzees use specific plants
to cleanse themselves of parasites
in a form of self-medication.
In west Africa, chimpanzees use logs
to break open palm nuts.
This behavior has never
been seen elsewhere in Africa,
even though the same tools and nuts
can be found in many habitats.
By studying chimpanzees,
scientists are gaining insights
into what the earliest human
cultures might have been like.
But just as these secrets
are being unlocked
chimpanzee communities
across Africa
are disappearing
one by one.
When I realized
how desperate the situation was,
I had to make
a very difficult decision.
I knew I had to leave
this place I loved so much
and go on the road to try to publicize
the terrible plight of the chimpanzees
and their disappearing forests.
The first priority for Jane
was to try and save
as much wilderness as possible.
National parks like Gombe
are relatively safe havens.
But elsewhere,
habitat destruction and poaching
have wiped out over 90%
of the chimpanzee populations.
With the help of Jane,
sanctuaries have been set up
in many parts of Africa.
One of the largest of these
is Ngamba Island
on the Ugandan side
of Lake Victoria.
These are all orphan chimpanzees
who were born in the forest
Most of their mothers
were shot and eaten.
Two of these chimps were
rescued from a meat market,
where they were on sale,
beside the butchered corpses
of their mothers.
This youngster
was found starving,
chained to a tree
outside a hut in a village.
If these chimpanzees could speak,
what do you think they would say?
Once you take chimpanzees
out of the wild,
they can never be returned.
Silly girl, Silly girl.
They're our responsibility now,
for the rest of their lives.
Jane's conservation efforts today
go well beyond chimpanzees.
She has also founded
Roots & Shoots,
an environmental movement
that helps children
make a difference
in the world around them.
Ther are now Roots & Shoots clubs
in nearly a hundred countries.
Dr. Jane as she
is affectionately known,
believes that young people
equipped with the right knowledge
can show us a better way to live
in harmony with the natural world.
So wherever I go in the world,
I take the sound of the chimpanzee...
jane Goodall's life has
taken her down a long road
that few would have been
brave enough to follow.
It has been an extraordinary journey
for the young Englishwoman
who showed up
on the shores of Gombe
to study an animal
she'd never laid eyes on before.
- Yeah, these are...
- they're pictures. The old days.
Old days in the forest
I don't have anything.
Sometimes when I sit here,
I feel like a young girl again...
Go back to your mother.
...exactly the same
as I did that day
when Fifi first reached out
to touch me on the nose.
I've often wondered what they think
about this pale-faced ape
who's lived among them
for so long.
If I could have just one wish,
it would be to look out
at the world through their eyes,
to see what they see,
to feel what they feel...
...even if only for a moment