Celebrating Environmental Icon Dr. Jane Goodall’s 90th

Celebrating Environmental Icon Dr. Jane Goodall’s 90th

If you’ve seen our earlier updates, you know Disney and legendary primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall have a history of doing great things together. So, to mark Dr. Jane’s 90th birthday – and to kick off Earth Month – we’re sharing a special Disney insider look at our lifelong friend and how she continues to inspire us all.  

When I first met Dr. Jane, it was 2006 and I’d been working at Disney for a little over a year and was helping with an event marking the 10th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF).

But even before our first meeting, I was one of many young people inspired by Dr. Jane to believe in the power to make a difference for animals, people, and nature…and I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this, she may have touched your life in some way, too.

Dr. Jane has driven scientific innovations, dedicated a lifetime to advocacy and advanced community-led conservation, animal welfare, science and youth empowerment while inspiring global optimism and possibility for the future of our planet. 

And of course, she’s had a remarkable influence on us here at Disney.

In the ‘90s, when an idea was proposed for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Dr. Jane reviewed the concept and provided guidance, a trusted voice then and since for our commitment to animals and conservation.

Her first visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom was during the construction phase and she returned to celebrate the grand opening. In gratitude for the meaningful role Jane played for the park and the world, Dr. Goodall was honored with a plaque on the Tree of Life, alongside a carving of David Greybeard, the original chimpanzee who first approached Jane during her first year at Gombe. 

Jane with the carving of David Greybeard on the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Jane with the carving of David Greybeard on the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In April 2006, at the event where I had the fortune to meet her, Dr. Jane was one of five Disney Conservation Legacy honorees, receiving a $100,000 gift on behalf of the Disney Conservation Fund. Jane has returned several times since to celebrate both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and DCF milestones over the years, and even travelled to our international Disney Parks to share her inspiring message of hope. 

In 2012, the Jane Goodall Institute was the conservation partner for the Disneynature film “Chimpanzee,” and Jane served as an ambassador for Disneynature. That same year, Jane was an honoree at the Disney Kids and Nature Celebration, supporting the launch of a commitment that ultimately led to Disney helping to provide more than 35 million nature experiences to kids and families over the following five years. 

Jane also helped us launch Disney Planet Possible, a voice for a commitment to hope and optimism as we work to create a healthier planet for people and wildlife. 

Since 2012, the DCF has proudly supported the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program to connect kids with nature, engage them as community and environmental stewards and empower them as future conservation leaders. Through this support, Jane and her team have brought more possibilities to life. 

This April, we’re thrilled to celebrate Jane and her 90 incredible years with a gift from the Disney Conservation Fund to expand our support for Roots & Shoots and engage even more young people to take action for our planet.

As Dr. Jane says, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” From all of us at Disney, we wish you a very special birthday, Dr. Jane!  

All Earth Month long, we’re celebrating ourHOME along with NatGeo across Disney Parks and experiences all around the world, including:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort celebrates Earth Week, April 21-28, with specialty offerings and experiences that connect guests with the magic of nature.
  • ourHOME Castle show at Disneyland Paris, highlighting scenes and images inspired by National Geographic explorers, takes place during the month of April.
  • Photo Activations – Special photo activations for Park goers at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort to celebrate the launch of Secrets of the Octopus.
  • Animation Academy – Special drawing activity at Disney California Adventure tied to Secrets of the Octopus.
  • Shanghai Disney Resort hosts the “ourHOME” Nature Conservation Forum on April 22, joined by National Geographic Explorer, Xi Zhinong, and sees the return of the “Celebrate Earth – Earth Month Fair” at Disneytown from April 19 through 22.

Since 1995, Disney Conservation has directed $125 million and the expertise of our dedicated teams to support organizations working with communities to save wildlife, inspire action, and protect the planet. 

Check back soon for more exciting Disney Planet Possible stories about animal conservation, environmental sustainability and the inspiring people who make it all possible, like the inimitable Jane Goodall.