Artist Marla Friedman Sculpts Moment of Connection Between Jane + Chimp David Greybeard


Dr. Jane Goodall’s study of the lives of wild chimpanzees proved that there is no sharp division between humans and the other species with whom we share this Earth. As a 26 year-old, Dr. Goodall went into the forests of Tanzania with a notebook, used binoculars and a passion for learning about animals. After months of hard work and frustration, came a moment of clarity when Jane connected with David Greybeard, the chimpanzee who would become one of her most important teachers. David Greybeard was the first wild chimpanzee to allow Jane Goodall to come close as she offered him a red palm nut, and in this moment with David’s acceptance, the world of the chimpanzees of Gombe opened up to her. This moment of #conscienceconnection changed everything, and now lives in the form of a bronze sculpture, ‘The Red Palm Nut’ by Marla Friedman, to be revealed tomorrow for Dr. Goodall herself on Jane’s 84th birthday!

In this sculpture, Marla has captured one of the most magical moments of my early time with the chimpanzees of Gombe, when David Greybeard refused my offering of a palm nut but then reached out with a reassuring touch. It is wonderful to have this commemorated in this beautiful sculpture. – Dr. Jane Goodall

Jane’s research proved the lesson she had learned years earlier from Rusty, the dog who was her one of her first teachers – that other animals have personalities and emotions, intelligence and compassion – and that we have a responsibility to respect and protect them. Through her relationship with David Greybeard, Jane exemplified the respect and acknowledgement of other species as complex, with impressive intellect and feelings. In this moment of humble and kind connection with our great ape cousins, Jane and David showed us and redefined how much we can learn from and grow alongside the rest of the animal kingdom, and all life on Earth. (Direct contact with wildlife is unsafe and harmful for both humans and non-human animals, though emotional connection is encouraged!)

Friedman, renowned for her sensitive portraits of such luminaries as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Apollo 13 astronaut James A. Lovell, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Abraham Lincoln, was formally trained in the Realist Tradition of painting and drawing. Self taught in the medium of sculpture, Friedman has collaborated with Dr. Goodall on this piece, titled ‘The Red Palm Nut’, along with her portrait sculpture beginning in 2016. ‘The Red Palm Nut’ is to be unveiled at the Chicago Field Museum tomorrow, April 3, on Dr. Goodall’s 84th birthday to commemorate Jane’s contributions, and to invigorate this generation and future generations to learn from this wisdom.

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Clay maquette of ‘The Red Palm Nut’, Marla Friedman. Final bronze sculpture is monument size located at the Chicago Field Museum. 

Friedman’s portraiture is represented exclusively by Hollis Taggart Galleries in New York. For further information or for interview inquiries with Marla Friedman, please contact Kathleen Rogers, 207.460.9806, or

Share your #ConscienceConnection on social!

From one moment of connection, a lifetime of conscientious action.

Today, Dr. Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute are taking this redefinition further by working tirelessly to learn more about, and save our great ape cousins and other wildlife from extinction, while also being advocates for the well-being of all animals. To celebrate Dr. Jane Goodall’s birthday and the unveiling of Marla Friedman’s sculpture depicting one of the most iconic moments in our shared history, join us in sharing the moment you recognized your #conscienceconnection to other life on Earth by sharing a photo or message using the hashtag and tagging @janegoodallinst.

Example post: Share an image of you and your dog on social tagging #conscienceconnection @janegoodallinst! As a part of that post, tell us about a moment with that animal that made you realize your role as one part of a larger, interconnected world of living beings.

DISCLAIMER: *It is harmful to wildlife and our perception of wildlife to take selfies or other inappropriate photographs with them – please only take/share images that respect these beings and their habitats. Imagery that does not follow this criteria will be removed.*


The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Director of Storytelling & Marketing for Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is pursuing a Master's of Science in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including 10+ years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking organizations, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces including Greens REALIGN. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to transform hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.