PORTLAND, ORE. - If it walks like a chimp, talks like a chimp and looks like a chimp, is it a chimp? Not necessarily...Sept. 28 the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) will open "Discovering Chimpanzees: The Remarkable World of Jane Goodall," which gives visitors a chance to walk like a chimp, climb into a giant chimp nest and learn about primates.
Through the exhibit visitors will be immersed in the forest environment of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, meeting Dr. Jane Goodall's now famous chimpanzee subjects, and getting an up close look at them as they fight, hunt, play and communicate with each other. Visitors will see how Goodall's relationship with the chimps evolved from one of strictly scientific interest to one of devotion and a firm commitment to chimpanzee survival.
"'Discovering Chimpanzees' gives visitors a sense of Dr. Goodall's remarkable story and her global influence, while taking them on an exciting adventure," said Marilyn Johnson, OMSI director of museum and teacher education. "It's an up close and personal encounter with both Dr. Goodall, and some very endearing chimpanzee characters."
The exhibit includes four distinct areas, each one focusing on a different area of Goodall's work.
The first exhibit, the Chimp Forest, takes visitors into the jungle home of the chimpanzees, giving them a chance to experience what it's like to be a chimp in the lush foliage of the Tanzanian jungle. This area includes instructional videos that teach visitors to walk and talk like a chimp, and also offers them a chance to climb into a chimp nest. The Chimp Forest also has an exhibit that shows people how chimps create tools to fish for termites, it then gives visitors a chance to try it for themselves at the simulated termite mound.
The Work of Jane Goodall portion of the exhibit brings 40 years of Goodall's research to life through field notes, photographs, video clips and other artifacts. Visitors will be able to sit in a re-creation of Goodall's field research tent and watch video accounts of some of her most memorable achievements and milestones during her four decades of research. The Gombe timeline documents the family history of the chimps, exploring family structure, alpha male dominance and the genealogy of the Gombe matriarchs.
Another portion of the exhibit, Primates, is an exploration of the order of primates. Visitors will learn about each of the 12 families of primates, their habitats and threats to their survival. They'll compare their physical characteristics to that of other primates, and join in the primate reunion for a 'family photo.'
The final portion of the Goodall exhibit is Reason for Hope. This area of the exhibit is a demonstration of the successful initiatives of individuals who have taken action to deal with environmental and societal issues.
Goodall has spent more than 40 years in the African tropical forest of Gombe National Park, studying the lives of chimpanzees in the wild. Her earliest discovery, that chimpanzees create and use tools, something that was originally thought to be a uniquely human ability, forced the scientific community to rethink its distinction between humans and animals. Over the years, Goodall discovered several startling similarities between humans and chimps and recent testing has confirmed that chimpanzees share 98.6 percent of the same DNA.
Discovering Chimpanzees will open at OMSI Sept. 28 and run through Jan. 2, 2005. The exhibit is a production of Science North, located in Sudbury, Canada.