Disney Celebrates Environmental Icon Dr. Jane Goodall’s 90th Birthday

Disney and legendary primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall have a history of doing great things together. In celebration of Earth Month and Dr. Goodall’s 90th birthday, it’s a fitting time to explore her contributions and influence on The Walt Disney Company.

“I was one of many young people inspired by Dr. Jane to believe in the power I had to make a difference for animals, people and nature” said Claire Martin, Senior Manager, Strategic Philanthropy, Disney Social Responsibility.

Claire first met Dr. Goodall in 2006, a little over a year into her Disney career, when she helped with a milestone event marking the 10th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF). Dr. Jane Goodall, Dame of the British Empire, renowned ethologist, conservationist, UN Messenger of Peace, and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), was being recognized for her outstanding commitment to protecting wildlife and wild places. Dr. Goodall has driven scientific innovations, dedicated a lifetime to advocacy and advanced community-led conservation, animal welfare, science and youth empowerment – inspiring global optimism and possibility for the future our planet.

In the ‘90s, when an idea was proposed for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Dr. Goodall reviewed the concept and provided guidance, a trusted voice then and since for Disney’s 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 Dr. Goodall played for the park and the world, she was honored with a plaque on the Tree of Life, alongside a carving of David Greybeard, the original chimpanzee who approached Dr. Goodall during her first year at Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

Dr. Goodall’s contributions did not cease after the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She has travelled to international Disney Parks to share her inspiring message of hope and has continued to celebrate both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and DCF milestones over the years.

In 2012, the Jane Goodall Institute was the conservation partner for the Disneynature film “Chimpanzee,” and Dr. Goodall served as an ambassador for Disneynature. That same year, Dr. Goodall was an honoree at the Disney Kids and Nature Celebration, helping to launch a commitment that led Disney to provide more than 35 million nature experiences to kids and families over the following five years. Dr. Goodall also helped launch Disney Planet Possible, a voice for a commitment to hope and optimism as Disney works to create a healthier planet for people and wildlife.

DCF has proudly supported JGI’s Roots & Shoots program since 2012 to connect kids with nature, engage them as community and environmental stewards and empower them as future conservation leaders. This April, the Disney Conservation Fund will expand its support for the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program and engage even more young people to take action for our planet.  

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

Stay tuned for more stories across the Walt Disney Company this Earth Month on animal conservation, environmental sustainability and the inspiring people who make it all possible, like the inimitable Dr. Jane Goodall.