The Jane Goodall Institute Italia (JGI Italia) per l’Uomo, gli Animali e l’Ambiente, was set up in Italy and Africa in 1998. It is an organisation devoted to projects for the protection of the environment, to assisting poorer populations, educating about sustainability and to the protection of primates, both in their natural environment and in captivity. 

The Institute was born out of the research and vision of Jane Goodall, an English scientist who studied Chimpanzees for many years in Tanzania, in the Gombe Forest on the shores of Lake Tanganika. Her observations in the field have led to incredible discoveries about these very human-like animals and revolutionised the way in which we take care of the environment. Throughout her research, Jane Goodall understood that in order to protect the Chimpanzees she had to not only take care of the forest, but also of the human communities around it: humans, animals and environment as a unified whole.

Following this message, JGI Italia curates projects of different kinds: the ‘Sanganigwa Children’s Eco-Village’, for orphaned or abandoned children in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania, where Jane conducted her studies; the programme for primate care ‘Così Simili a Noi’ (‘So Like Us’), with a particular focus on anthropomorphic apes that are at risk of extinction and the ‘Roots and Shoots’ programme, dedicated to environmental education and sustainability, and aimed at children and teens like you!

kikI, the chimpanzee

JCI’s studies, research and field activities inspired the story of Kiki, the chimpanzee protagonist of The 2021 Christmas EcoAdventures, the Advent Calendar that collects 24 stories and creative activities for young EcoExplorers.

The Christmas EcoAdventures are stories to share. Every day, from the 1st to 24th December, you will find a story and an activity to complete together.

This EcoAdventure was created so that this special time becomes a journey to the four corners of the world discovering curious, rare or endangered animals. You are never too young to take care of our environment and communities!

The animals’ stories, told with fur, feathers, scales or fins and a pinch of imagination, are an invitation to discover their characteristics, lifestyle, and the daily challenges they face to survive threats posed by man and pollution.

Christmas is only one day a year, but taking care of the Earth should be a daily act. 

The activities allow you to experience a sustainable and creative activity each day. You will then become a
First Class EcoElf.

Kiki is a young chimpanzee from Tanzania. He loves to explore the forest by climbing and jumping between the branches of trees, tasting the ripest fruits, hunting for termites.

However, Kiki knows that not all places are safe because hunters and poachers are lurking and are able to go even into the wildest and most dense heart of the forest. Nonetheless, his curiosity is stronger than anything and has prompted him to find an ingenious way to reach his cousin in Uganda and live new adventures together.

But he needs the help of an Echo Elf.


find more about the chimpanzee

Humans, alongside chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans, are part of the Hominid family. Both humans and the other great apes differ from all other primates in many respects, for example we don’t have a tail!

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are, of all living beings, the most similar to us. These amazing animals have intellectual abilities once considered exclusive to human beings, for example they can build simple tools, and feel emotions such as joy, pain, fear and anguish.

The chimpanzee lives in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in its central part, from Senegal to Congo and Tanzania. In these regions chimpanzees have adapted to a wide variety of environments, from the dry wooded savannah to the prairies, to tropical forests, both primary and secondary, and to mountainous and flat forests.

There are four subspecies of chimpanzee and they are all under threat of extinction: their disappearance is mainly due to deforestation because humans are cutting down forests and replacing them with fields. Poachers hunt and sell them illegally, human diseases can be transmitted to them and climate change is impacting on their ecosystem.

But what does a chimpanzee look like? Its body is covered in thick fur, which comes in shades of brown or black, while the skin on their face, ears and palms is bare. Both males and females often have a small white beard. The ears are protruding. Their young have much lighter skin and a small tuft of hair where a tail would be, which disappears as they grow. Chimpanzees’ upper limbs are longer than their lower ones, and have opposable thumbs like ours. They walk and run on all four limbs, climb and sometimes move bipedally!

They usually eat fruit, leaves, seeds and flowers, but also insects, eggs and, sporadically, meat: they hunt in packs, preying on small mammals like monkeys, small wild hogs and small antelopes. Their diet varies seasonally and also includes some species of medicinal plants, like the Aspilia, used to treat intestinal problems.

One of the greatest discoveries made by Jane Goodall in Gombe during the 1960s, was that the chimpanzees are able to build instruments to get their food: they ‘fish’ for termites! They insert a stick inside a termite hive and extract it covered in termites, who attach themselves to it while trying to protect their home. The chimpanzees take advantage of this to eat them… as we would eat from a skewer!

Chimpanzees use many tools: leaves to clean themselves or rolled up to be used as straws to drink; stones to break nuts. Even when bringing up their children, chimpanzees are similar to us: after an 8 months pregnancy the mum gives birth, nearly always to a single infant, and for 4 to 5 years dedicates herself only to the child. The young ones play actively with their older brothers and sisters: they chase each other, hug and tickle each other.  They also have milk teeth, which grow around their third month and get replaced between the 5th and 7th year. During adolescence, between the 6th and 9th year, the young chimpanzees explore the environment around them with growing interest and interact more and more with the other members of their community, while still remaining close to their mother’s side.

In fact, chimpanzees are very sociable animals. They spend their days, mostly in small groups, looking for food, and then gather at sunset for the night. Every evening they build their beds on a different tree, to be safe from possible predators. There is a hierarchy among both males and females: a male, generally the strongest or in some cases a particularly smart one, becomes the leader of the community. Chimpanzees communicate with each other throughgestures, postures, facial expressions and vocalisations that range from a slight grunt (for example when they appreciate a food they are eating), to a soft hiss (when they laugh from tickling). The most well-known vocalisations is the pant-hoot: a sound, between a snort and a cry, emitted in situations of excitement,  for example when reaching a tree well loaded with fruit!

A fundamental activity for these animals is the grooming: it is a social behaviour that consists of cleaning each other’s fur, which is performed daily and several times throughout the day. Grooming has a calming effect and helps maintaining stability in the community.

learn to care

and choose to colour the world 

with more smiles and kindness

The idea of the Christmas EcoAdventures was born to create a time for sharing during the days leading up to Christmas; a time to read and create but most of all to enjoy being together.

The characters, stories and activities that give life to the EcoADVENTures are an invitation to reconnect, to learn to care, and choose to colour the world with more smiles and more kindness.

We hope that this book will encourage empathy, respect and help children to make informed choices, embrace experiences and cultivate their dreams and ambitions. We hope that they will learn to respect differences, the environment that surrounds them and the community in which they live. We would love our book to help you experience Christmas in a unique, thought provoking and sincere way.

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