Primatologist Jane Goodall gets Barbie doll in her likeness

July 12, 2022 - 1:30 PM
A handout picture shows primatologist Jane Goodall posing with the new Jane Goodall Barbie doll, in Los Angeles, U.S., April 2022. (Jane Goodall Institute/Handout via Reuters)

 British primatologist Jane Goodall has got a Barbie in her likeness, fulfilling a longtime wish of having her own doll to inspire young girls.

Mattel Inc MAT.O unveiled the new Barbie, which the toymaker says is made from recycled plastic, as part of its Inspiring Women Series, nodding to Goodall’s groundbreaking studies of chimpanzees and conservation efforts.

Dressed in a khaki shirt and shorts and holding a notebook, Goodall’s doll has a pair of binoculars around her neck and David Greybeard by her side, a replica of the first chimpanzee to trust the primatologist as she conducted her research at Gombe National Park, in what is now Tanzania in east Africa.

“I wanted a doll to be me even before this idea came up. I’ve seen…little girls playing with Barbie dolls and certainly at the beginning, they were all very girly girly and I thought little girls need…some choice,” Goodall told Reuters.

“Mattel has changed its range of dolls and there’s all kinds of astronauts and doctors and things like that. So many children learn about me at school. They’ll be thrilled to have the Barbie doll.”

Goodall, 88, began her research in east Africa in 1960, observing that chimpanzees make tools, hunt and eat meat and show compassion among other traits.

“When I got to Gombe, it was beautiful, my dream had come true,” she said. “But for four months the chimps ran away from me…so although the forest was wonderful, I couldn’t enjoy it until this David Greybeard lost his fear and helped the others to lose their fear too.”

Mattel said it would also partner with the Jane Goodall Institute and her youth service movement Roots & Shoots to help teach children about their environmental impact.

“I see us at the mouth of a very long, very dark tunnel with a little shining star at the end and it’s no good sitting at the mouth of the tunnel and saying ‘Oh, I hope that star comes to us.’ Hope is about action,” Goodall said.

“We… work around all these obstacles between us and the star, which is climate change, loss of biodiversity, poverty, unsustainable lifestyles, pollution, you name it. And as we go along the tunnel, we reach out to others because there are people working on each one of these problems but so often they’re working in silos.”

—Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise