Immersive ‘My Life with the Chimpanzees’ Audiobook Inspires a New Generation


Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, has published an updated edition of her famous children’s biography, ‘My Life with the Chimpanzees’ with Hatchette Book Group. This new edition offered via audiobook features Goodall telling her story in her own voice with new details and additional stories.

It was always Jane’s dream to realize a version of the book in her own voice.  What also makes this new unabridged version special is that it is filled with new details and additional stories all set in a captivating and immersive cinematic soundtrack.

The immersive ‘My Life with Chimpanzees’ audiobook was released in early 2020. Like many things, it fell under the COVID-19 cloud that envelopes the world. Regardless, the audiobook is sensational and is likely to gain the attention of a number of awards.

A perfect book for animal and nature lovers of all ages, ‘My Life with the Chimpanzees’ chronicles Goodall’s life from her childhood through her career as a woman scientist studying wild chimpanzees in what is now Gombe National Park Tanzania, to today as a global conservation phenomenon. Anyone who listens to the audiobook will find inspiration in Goodall’s life as a scientist and activist, as well as many simple, yet important aspects of her life – the support of her mother, her family and friends, the many jobs she had to work before achieving her dreams and so much more.

All great pieces of art require two things: a terrific idea and flawless execution. The rich soundscape that enwraps Dr. Goodall’s powerful words and mellifluous voice is the result of both imaginative and highly proficient sound craft on the part of both Ms. Mendelson and Mr. Thomas. Technology has come a long way since sound effects people tapped shoes on a table to recreate footsteps, opened and closed the studio doors for entrances and so on. But that doesn’t mean it is any easier now. The collection, matching, and editing of sounds is so good that we just completely take it for granted. Our only job is to sit back, relax and take in the great story, sensuous experience, and inspiration on offer in this amazing work.

Marguerite C. Rizzi, EdD, writer, musician and educator

“Though My Life was published previously as a print book for young readers, I am so glad to have this opportunity to update the text, but also share the story in a new way with original sounds from the places I know so well – especially as we prepare to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the beginning of my researching Gombe.” said Goodall. “Our team went through so much to produce this book, from creating a make-shift sound studio in a hotel room, to their meticulous research of all of the appropriate sounds. It is an audiobook that every child should experience.”

My Life with the Chimpanzees  By  cover art
*JGI does not endorse handling or close proximity to wildlife. This image represents a historic context.*

My Life offers an update to Dr. Goodall’s previous written work of the same title, though this audiobook version feels completely new with its unique soundscape created by producer, engineer, and editor Ruth Mendelson, who used authentic archival sounds from Gombe and elsewhere to help listeners feel a part of Dr. Goodall’s story themselves. The audio experience is only enhanced by the highest quality audio experience mastered by co-engineer and long-time collaborator Steve Thomas.

“Dr. Goodall has been an inspiration of mine for decades,” said Mendelson. “Her impact, and her modern presence as a conservation icon is a story that people of all ages should hear. This book is immeasurably important at this time in history − resplendent with life lessons that can benefit us all. What an honor it was to record this classic with her! I spent two years meticulously researching historic recordings in support of text, ultimately weaving them into an authentic soundscape throughout the book in support of Dr. Jane Goodall’s beautiful narration.

Many thanks to Bill Wallauer, Jane’s cinematographer of many years, for providing historic audio. “Every animal (specific to gender, age and temperament expressed), bird, even insect you hear is authentic– not only location, but also time of day taking place in the story. Enjoy the journey!”


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.