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Jane Goodall and the Primate Gary Larson

In July 1960, at the age of 26, Jane Goodall traveled from England to what is now Tanzania and ventured into the little-known world of wild chimpanzees.

With the 60th anniversary of Jane Goodall entering the forest of Gombe coming, stories of Jane are starting to appear. One of those stories is Jane developing a friendship with a primate of the suborder cartoonist, this particular one was called Gary Larson.

In his 1987 cartoon strip, Larson referred to Jane Goodall as a ‘tramp’ but all in good fun and while Goodall’s institution took offence, she went ahead and made friends with the artist.

MEAWW details the developing friendship between Jane Goodall and Gary Larson.

While the cows became the spotlight of the [Far Side] cartoons, the inclusion of various other animals also attracted keen interest. But what catapulted it to notoriety was a ‘minor’ controversy in 1987 involving Goodall that garnered it a national response. The cartoon depicted a chimpanzee couple, and while they were grooming each other, the female found a single blonde strand of hair on the male and probed, “Conducting a little more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?” Larson, however, had never meant for it to express any malice towards Goodall.

With Jane out of the country, the Jane Goodall Institute let Gary know that it was not amused.

In his ‘The Prehistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Collection’, Larson wrote: “I was horrified. Not so much from a fear of being sued… but because of my deep respect for Jane Goodall and her well-known contributions to primatology. The last thing in the world I would have intentionally done was offend Dr Goodall in any way.”

When Jane finally saw the cartoon, she loved it. Gary was relieved. And that was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” A friendship that saw the cartoon printed for the benefit of The Institute.

Community Comments

#1 Donna Hughes
@ 4:06 pm

I think that both Mr. Larsson and Ms. Goodall do wonderful services for humanity. Mr. Larsson for the soul,as in the laughter we get with his cartoons and Ms. Goodall for her wonderful work in the wild.

#2 Lynne Borner
@ 4:54 pm

1983 spent 4 weeks in both Tanzania & Kenya. Stayed overnight at Richard Leakey compound. Also met Mary Leakey at her compound ( amazing lady). Dr. Jane you should run the world. Nobody does it better than you. You don’t know me but i swear i knew about how our mistreatment of animals was going to lead to this in the early 70’s. I may not be Dr. Doolittle but the animals speak to me. Stay well. God bless

#3 Cathy carj
@ 11:05 am

Thank you both very much!

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