THE GENIUS OF JANE GOODALL

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

It’s not too late to catch “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall,” an immersive multimedia exhibition running through April 17 at the LA Natural History Museum.

What’s not to like about the aptly named Jane Goodall?

There’s the unusual childhood, marked by an absent father and a constellation of female relatives who encouraged and fostered the young Jane’s independence. In an iconic photo taken just after her first birthday, she’s cuddling Jubilee, the stuffed chimpanzee she’d received as a gift and that eerily presaged her vocation. At five she disappeared one day. Her mother and aunts were so panic-stricken they even called the police. Jane re-appeared hours later, covered with straw and bursting with excitement. Curious as to how hens laid eggs, she’d been in the henhouse and had patiently waited until she’d found out!

There’s her dream, as a high school student, to study and write about animals in Africa; the limited opportunities available to women in that era; the chance invitation, from a boarding-school chum, to visit Kenya. Goodall arrived in Nairobi on her 23rd birthday.

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