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Ape Expert Goodall to Join USC : Academia: Ethnologist pioneered the study of primates in their natural habitats.

January 18, 1990|THOMAS H. MAUGH II | TIMES SCIENCE WRITER

Jane Goodall, the British ethnologist who pioneered studying primates in their natural habitats for the lessons they can teach about the human condition, will join the faculty of USC, university officials will announce today.

Goodall, who will be Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Occupational Science, will deliver occasional lectures and seminars at USC and take graduate students into her various programs around the world.

Perhaps more important, the addition of Goodall will give the university one of the most comprehensive records of animal behavior available. USC's visual anthropology program will catalogue all of the slides, photographs, film and videos that Goodall has accumulated in her 30 years of research in Gombe, Tanzania, and transfer them to videodiscs that will be available to other researchers.

Her research materials represent "really one of the most important ethnographic (resources) in the world," said USC anthropologist Gary Seaman. The desire to archive the materials and assemble them into more accessible formats is probably the most important reason for her decision to choose USC, Goodall indicated.

Although she was born in London and now lives in Tanzania, Goodall has many ties to California. She was a visiting professor at Stanford in the early 1970s and was curator of mammals at the California Academy of Sciences from 1985 to 1987.

Goodall will also become a faculty member in USC's fledgling occupational science program, whose focus, according to occupational therapy head Florence Clark, is the study of "the form, function and meaning of occupation, which we define as those chunks of purposeful activities in which people engage."

Goodall's studies of the chimps' "occupations," such as foraging and grooming, have been a great influence in developing similar studies of human activities, Clark said. "They tell us a great deal about the seemingly mundane things humans do."

In fact, Goodall's first contact with USC was through a lecture she delivered last year at an occupational science symposium. "It's an unusual kind of association with, hopefully, unusual kinds of benefits," Goodall said.

Goodall, meanwhile, continues to use her highly respected position as the "Einstein of behavioral sciences" as a bully pulpit from which to campaign for better treatment of laboratory and zoo animals and to promote conservation.

An ardent proponent of animal rights, she travels widely, lecturing on her studies of the chimpanzees of Gombe, promoting conservation efforts, visiting laboratories where chimps are used in biomedical research and promoting her "Chimpanzoo" program to enrich the environment of chimps in zoos.

Goodall, 56, was in Los Angeles this week for the announcement of her appointment.

In an exclusive interview with The Times, Goodall said that her visits to USC "will be erratic. They will depend on . . . all these other things that are going on. I mean, my life has become absurd. I just worked out that I haven't spent more than three consecutive weeks in one place in the last 2 1/2 years. Now that's really awful. And it's because I have become so involved in conservation and better treatment in the labs."

Much of Goodall's time is spent lecturing (at $15,000 per speech) and raising funds for the Jane Goodall Institutes, a collection of independent research institutes in Tucson, Ariz., Canada, Britain, Burundi and the Congo. The institutes support research into chimpanzee behavior, promote conservation and work to improve conditions in captivity.

Their current budget is about $750,000 per year, Goodall said, "most of which has been raised by my writings and lectures, actually." She is now embarked on a program to raise a $5-million endowment to place the institutes on a sounder financial footing.

Her concern for the institutes' future is perhaps triggered by the fates of Dian Fossey and Chico Mendes, ardent conservationists who were murdered for their opposition to development. "Who knows, anything could happen to me, couldn't it?" she said quietly.

"I suppose I could do my lectures with broken legs and arms; I'm sure I would. Can't you see me being carried along? But if I lost my voice, then we've had it."

In the interview, Goodall said that her concern for animal welfare in research laboratories is rooted in her long-term studies of animal behavior which have revealed previously unsuspected emotional and rational components of their lives.

Biomedical research was begun, she believes, "at a time when scientists persuaded themselves that animals were little machines. Now, thanks to field studies . . . we know perfectly well that they are sentient, that they can feel pain and have other emotions. So now it is time to address the issue of the extent to which we are prepared to make animals suffer for us."

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