Goodness Report, News

A new generation will get to know Jane Goodall – with a Barbie doll of the pioneer and conservationist

July 13, 2022

By Caitlin O’Kane, CBS News

It’s been more than 60 years since Jane Goodall started her pioneering work. In 1960, at just 26 years old, she was chosen to go to what is now Tanzania and study the little-known world of chimpanzees.

“I was selected by Louis Leakey, because I was female,” Goodall told CBS News. “He thought I’d be more patient out in the field. And since young girls began reading about my early life and my career with the chimps, many, many, many of them told me they went into conservation or animal behavior, because of me.”

Since then, Goodall has received many awards and honorary degrees and was made commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

But before she was a world-renowned conservationist, she was just a kid who liked animals. “I was born loving and being fascinated by animals. And because I loved animals, people gave me animal toys,” she said.

Now, Goodall has received an unusual honor. She is becoming a toy – a Barbie doll. “Well, I don’t know if I expected it to happen,” she said. “The original Barbie’s little frilly clothes and very girly-girly. And I thought that because my careers has always interested young people that to have a doll that was a doll about me would be a good thing.”

Goodall may not have expected to become a Barbie at 88 years old – but it’s not just any doll, it’s made out of recycled plastic. And Barbie is partnering with the Jane Goodall Foundation and its Roots & Shoots program, which inspires young people to protect others, animals and the environment.

“You know, the main message is every day you live, you make an impact on the planet and you get to choose what sort of impact you make,” she said.

“There was a little boy of 7 in Burundi, and I had given a talk to the school and he came up to me and he said, ‘If I pick out a piece of trash every day, it will make a difference, won’t it?’ And I said, ‘Yes it will. And suppose you persuade 10 of your friends to pick up a piece of rubbish every day.’ He said, ‘Oh, that would really make a difference and then they could all get 10 of their friends, couldn’t they?'” Goodall said.

“So, that’s it. The cumulative effect of small actions can lead to big change.”

She’s been inspiring young people for decades, but now, newer generations will get to know Jane Goodall. “I sincerely hope that it will help to create more interest and fascination in the natural world,” she said about the Barbie. “Because hopefully, you know, if they don’t know they’ll learn more about me. And that will get them interested. It doesn’t really matter if they have a career in conservation, as long as they live conservation in their daily lives.”