At the age of 73, the world-renowned anthropologist is as vivacious as she was during her groundbreaking study of Gombe chimpanzees in the 1960s. She still totes around “Mr. H,” the monkeylike toy given to her 17 years ago. And she continues to travel around the globe advocating animal rights — 300 days out of the year in fact, she said. She recently attended the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in The City and had enough energy to go horseback riding at a Half Moon Bay fundraiser afterward.
Where do you find all this energy? My Roots and Shoots program keeps me going [a global network of youths who participate in environment and animal protection campaigns] and some kids are doing amazing projects. We need more positive things right now.
What should the upcoming White House administration do to get back on track with animal rights and environmental conservation? So much of the environment-protection legislation during the Clinton administration is being defied or repealed. We need to put back some of that legislation. If we truly care about the next generation, we need to make some pretty tough decisions.
What else did you fit into your whirlwind schedule in the Bay Area? I was at the Grace Cathedral for the blessing of animals. I did the sermon for about 100 dogs in the cathedral — snakes, a sick rat, an iguana.
What’s the premise behind Roots and Shoots? It’s about rolling up your sleeves and doing it. It’s about living in peace and harmony with both your community and the world. If we’ve got the money to bomb Iraq, then we have the money to protect our resources.
Check out more 3-minute interviews from our San Francisco newsroom.