On Jane Goodall's 90th birthday, as the rain pours down heavily outside, most people might find the weather gloomy, but Goodall welcomes it with open arms.

"I love it, I love rain," expresses the renowned anthropologist and activist during an interview with YEPPOST.com.

Sitting beside her is a small stuffed monkey affectionately named "Mr. H," after Gary Haun, a dear friend of Goodall's. Despite losing his sight while serving in the U.S. Marines, Haun refused to let his disability hinder his zest for life.

"He chose to be a magician. Everyone was saying, 'You can't be a magician if you're blind,'" Goodall recounts. She shares how Haun not only pursued magic but also became a skydiver, scuba diver, and painter, sending a powerful message that regardless of life's challenges, "Never give up. There's always a way forward."

Haun gifted the monkey to Goodall on her 57th birthday, telling her, "Take him wherever you go, and know my spirit's with you." For 33 years, Mr. H has remained a constant companion by her side.

"He represents the resilient human spirit," reflects Goodall.

‘What’s wrong with us?’

Throughout the majority of her life, Jane Goodall has consistently remained in the public eye, leveraging her global platform to draw attention to environmental issues and what she perceives as the lamentable state of the world.

"The world today is a real mess. Not just because of climate change, loss of biodiversity, intensive farming, and poverty, but also because of the ongoing wars," remarks Goodall, pointing out the widespread conflicts across the globe.

"What's wrong with us? We possess this remarkable intellect, yet we are failing to create a better world," she muses.

However, advocating for a better world is precisely what Goodall has been dedicated to since her groundbreaking research with chimpanzees in the 1960s.

Following months of studying the primates in Tanzania, Goodall shattered long-held beliefs about them. Contrary to the assumptions that they were herbivores and vastly different from humans, she discovered that they were sentient beings capable of using tools and displaying behaviors remarkably similar to humans.

Jane Goodall with one of her research subjects in the Gombe National Park in northern Tanzania.Bettmann Archive

Over the subsequent decades, Goodall has dedicated herself to raising awareness about the ethical treatment of not only chimpanzees but all animals, alongside advocating for environmental responsibility.

In 1977, she took a pivotal step by establishing the Jane Goodall Institute, aiming to galvanize the movement. Since then, she has tirelessly traversed the globe, striving to instigate change and inspire new generations to engage in the cause.

One of her dreams has materialized through Roots & Shoots, a program that empowers young individuals to initiate change within their communities and beyond — a facet she hopes will contribute to her legacy.

"Roots & Shoots enables young people to undertake projects aimed at improving the world for people, animals, and the environment," she shares with YEPPOST.com, emphasizing that the initiative embodies her "greatest hope for the future."

Alongside Roots & Shoots, Goodall desires to be remembered for reshaping perceptions regarding our relationship with animals and nurturing the understanding that humans are "part of and not separate from the animal kingdom."

"When I pursued my Ph.D., I was informed that only humans possess personality, mind, and emotion. However, due to the striking biological similarities between chimpanzees and humans — we share 98.7% of our DNA — science gradually acknowledged that we are not the sole sentient sapien beings on Earth," Goodall elaborates.

"Now, we recognize that it's not solely the apes and monkeys, but also the whales, dolphins, elephants, lions, crows, parrots, and various other birds."

‘We’ve progressed a great deal’

When questioned about humanity's progress in safeguarding the animal kingdom, Goodall acknowledges, "We have certainly heightened awareness by a hundred percent. Across the globe, there are now numerous animal welfare organizations that didn't exist previously. More individuals are advocating to spread the message that animals, much like us, possess personalities, minds, and emotions. So, in that aspect, we've made significant strides."

However, Goodall highlights that despite increased awareness, meaningful change hasn't necessarily ensued. She points to ongoing issues such as sports hunting and the senseless killing of animals, including elephants.

"Elephants are not only endangered but also magnificent creatures. They lead long lives, form close family bonds, and exhibit wisdom. They're akin to whales on land. How can someone justify shooting one?" she questions incredulously.

Nonetheless, progress has been evident in various fields, particularly in sustainability, an area that Jane Goodall passionately supports through diverse channels. One significant avenue is her collaboration with Brilliant Earth, a company committed to transforming the jewelry industry by utilizing recycled materials, lab-grown gems, and energy-efficient practices.

"People often fail to recognize the implications of their purchasing decisions," notes Beth Gerstein, co-founder of Brilliant Earth. She underscores the adverse impacts of conventional diamond and gold mining on communities, laborers, and the environment.

"For example, the production of a single ring generates 20 tons of mining waste with mined gold," Gerstein elaborates. "Additionally, gold mining is a leading cause of mercury pollution, resulting in severe consequences."

However, as Goodall emphasizes, heightened awareness holds the promise of catalyzing change.

"There are no limits to what we can achieve when we collaborate with organizations genuinely dedicated to shaping a brighter future," she asserts.

‘It’s not too late to make a difference’

For many, reaching the age of 90 would signal a time to retire, but not for Goodall. The primatologist continues to maintain a busy schedule, traveling for upwards of 300 days a year, delivering talks, and persisting in her tireless activism for environmental responsibility and advocacy for meaningful global change.

What fuels her relentless drive?

"What drives me is the condition of our world, the peril facing our youth if we fail to enact change. The belief that if we unite and take action, it's not too late to make a difference," she asserts.

Goodall also draws strength from connecting with people. "When I enter an auditorium filled with 2,000, 5,000 people, the reception alone energizes me immensely," she shares.

However, this isn't her sole wellspring of inspiration.

"I believe I draw energy from a profound spiritual force, which may seem unconventional to some, but for me, it's effective," she adds.