Backstage in a dimly-lit room in Brooklyn, Goodall is categorically spritely. She pops about the room, greeting friends and admirers - many of whom line the doors and even spill onto the streets waiting for a woman whose name has become as recognizable as any rock star or celebrity who passes through the venue's doors. Despite the fervor that surrounds her, Goodall is cool and calm as she perches on a couch in her trademark shawl-and-turtleneck uniform, her posture impeccable.
"I feel ashamed of my species," she had told a crowd of hundreds just an hour before, lamenting the havoc she's seen wreaked on the Earth since she began her Gombe research in the 1960s. But now, Goodall seems more hopeful than anything. She's serving as the ambassador for Disney's new "Monkey Kingdom," a feature documentary that follows the lives of a group of macaques in Sri Lanka. Goodall lights up when she talks about the film and its characters.
"There's Maya, and her lover Kumar, and the top ranking male Raja, and the sisterhood of these three ugly, awful, terrible females," she told The Dodo, not bothering to suppress a laugh.
The significance of the Disney producers naming the real-life monkey characters is not lost on Goodall. She was once derided by the scientific community for naming the chimps she observed in Gombe. But to her, David Greybeard, Mike, Flo and all the other chimpanzees she met were individuals, worthy of names for the simple fact that they each had their own personality.
"I think if you give an animal a name, people realize this is an individual, and they can relate to it," Goodall said. "I was told you have to give animals numbers and I thought, 'Well, that's just stupid. Then let's give us numbers! We'd probably be 2,000,000,029.'"