Sunday, May 07, 2006

Jane Goodall stories

I had one wonderful communication with David Greybeard as I followed him in the forest. When he sat close to a little stream, I sat nearby. I saw a ripe red fruit of an oil nut palm lying on the ground. Chimps love these fruits. I held it out to him on my palm. He turned his head away. I held it closer. He looked into my eyes, took the nut, dropped it, then very gently held my hand. It is the way chimpanzees reassure one another. He didn't want the nut, but he knew I meant well. It was a communication, between human and chimpanzee, that could be understood without words. It was a moment I shall remember all my life. I can still close my eyes and feel the soft, warm skin of his fingers pressing mine.

I was about four years old at the time, and I loved animals. We lived in London at that time, but I went to stay on a farm. It was very exciting because I hadn't seen cows, pigs, sheep or horses before. While I was there my job was to help collect the hens' eggs. The hens laid their eggs in a little wooden hen house where they slept at night. As I was putting these eggs in my basket I started to think, "Where do the egg come out, where's the hole?" I looked and looked and could not see a hole on a hen big enough for an egg. I was asking everybody, "Where does the egg come out?" Obviously, nobody told me, at least not to my satisfaction. So I hid in a corner of the hen house covered with straw for about four hours. My family didn't know where I was. They actually called the police. Then at the last moment as my mother was still searching, she saw this excited little creature covered in straw. She didn't seize me; she didn't reprimand me; she didn't say don't you ever do this again. But she saw my shining eyes and sat down to hear this wonderful story of how a hen lays an egg.