Nature film expert on chimpanzee behavior to lecture Feb. 11
Wallauer’s presentation draws from 15 years’ filming at Goodall reserve in Tanzania

DANBURY, CONN. — Noted nature filmmaker Bill Wallauer will share rare footage and first-hand observations drawn from his 15 years’ study of chimpanzee life in the natural setting of the Gombe Stream Reserve National Park in Tanzania during a screening on Wednesday, Feb. 10, and lecture on Thursday, Feb. 11, at Western Connecticut State University.

Wallauer’s presentation, part of the WestConn “Science at Night” lecture series, will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. His talk, titled “Up Close and Personal with the Chimpanzees of Gombe: Studying Wildlife through a Lens,” will offer unique visual images and personal perspectives from his film studies in the reserve bordering Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. The reserve was founded by renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall at the site of her pioneering field research on chimpanzee behavior and the close genetic relationship between chimps and humans.

A screening of Wallauer’s film, “Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees,” will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 in Science Building Room 125, with a question-and-answer session following the presentation. Admission will be free for the Feb. 10 film and Feb. 11 lecture programs, and the public is invited to attend.

His WestConn appearances mark the kickoff of celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of Goodall’s arrival in Tanzania in 1960 to begin research at the habitat that has now become the Gombe Reserve. “The chimpanzee behavioral research she pioneered there has produced a font of scientific discovery, and her vision has expanded into a global mission to empower people to make a difference for all living things,” a release from the Jane Goodall Institute noted.

As chief videographer at the Gombe Stream Reserve, Wallauer “spent just about every waking hour of every day following the wild chimpanzees of the park, capturing the intimate details of their daily life,” the Goodall Institute observed. “Chimpanzee births, dominance displays, infanticide attempts, encounters with snakes, the mysterious waterfall and rain ‘dances’ — he has seen all this and more. Much of his footage is unprecedented, including capture of a live birth on tape.”

Inspired by a Goodall lecture that he attended while serving on a Peace Corps assignment in Tanzania, Wallauer joined the Goodall Institute’s Gombe Stream Research Center in 1989, initially assisting in transcriptions of chimpanzee research data. His field experience and talent for videography in the wild earned him a personal assignment from Goodall to follow chimps in their natural habitat and record their daily activities and behavior. During his 15 years of video work, the Goodall Institute biography said, “he has commented that he spent more time with chimpanzees than with humans.”

Wallauer has served as camera operator and scientific adviser for more than 30 wildlife films shot at Gombe and other locations in Africa, including the BBC/Animal Planet series “Chimp Week” and the BBC/Discovery series “Planet Earth.” Currently he is working as a lead camera operator and consultant for a major Disney film in production titled “Chimpanzee.”

The Goodall Institute biographical notes said that Wallauer is equally gifted as a researcher providing important contributions to basic research on chimp behavior and ecology, and as a public speaker and educator whose passion for his subject has earned him the Institute’s nickname as “Chimp Champion.”

“His infectious personality, great stories and jaw-dropping chimpanzee multimedia presentation help audiences to understand how chimpanzees are so like us, sharing 98 percent of our DNA and so many of our personal traits,” the biography added.

For more information, contact Professor Emeritus of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Howard Russock at russockh@wcsu.edu or (203) 837-8798, or Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots Program Coordinator Shawn Sweeney at ssweeney@janegoodall.org or (203) 837-3260.


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