Dr. Jane Goodall’s study of the lives of wild chimpanzees proved that there is no sharp division between humans and the other species with whom we share this Earth. As a 26 year-old, Dr. Goodall went into the forests of Tanzania with a notebook, used binoculars and a passion for learning about animals. After months of hard work and frustration, came a moment of clarity when Jane connected with David Greybeard, the chimpanzee who would become one of her most important teachers. David Greybeard was the first wild chimpanzee to allow Jane Goodall to come close as she offered him a red palm nut, and in this moment with David’s acceptance, the world of the chimpanzees of Gombe opened up to her. This moment of #conscienceconnection changed everything, and now lives in the form of a bronze sculpture, ‘The Red Palm Nut’ by Marla Friedman, to be revealed tomorrow for Dr. Goodall herself on Jane’s 84th birthday!

In this sculpture, Marla has captured one of the most magical moments of my early time with the chimpanzees of Gombe, when David Greybeard refused my offering of a palm nut but then reached out with a reassuring touch. It is wonderful to have this commemorated in this beautiful sculpture. – Dr. Jane Goodall

Jane’s research proved the lesson she had learned years earlier from Rusty, the dog who was her one of her first teachers – that other animals have personalities and emotions, intelligence and compassion – and that we have a responsibility to respect and protect them. Through her relationship with David Greybeard, Jane exemplified the respect and acknowledgement of other species as complex, with impressive intellect and feelings. In this moment of humble and kind connection with our great ape cousins, Jane and David showed us and redefined how much we can learn from and grow alongside the rest of the animal kingdom, and all life on Earth.

Friedman, renowned for her sensitive portraits of such luminaries as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Apollo 13 astronaut James A. Lovell, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Abraham Lincoln, was formally trained in the Realist Tradition of painting and drawing. Self taught in the medium of sculpture, Friedman has collaborated with Dr. Goodall on this piece, titled ‘The Red Palm Nut’, along with her portrait sculpture beginning in 2016. ‘The Red Palm Nut’ is to be unveiled at the Chicago Field Museum tomorrow, April 3, on Dr. Goodall’s 84th birthday to commemorate Jane’s contributions, and to invigorate this generation and future generations to learn from this wisdom.

(Direct contact with wildlife is unsafe and harmful for both humans and non-human animals, though emotional connection is encouraged!)