Named grand marshal of the 2013 Rose Bowl Parade, the official duty Jane Goodall most feared was flipping the coin to start the 99th annual Rose Bowl Game. Having lost half a thumb, bitten off by a chimpanzee while doing her thought-changing research, Goodall felt she might miss the catch. A phone call to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, a previous grand marshal, assured her that she didn't have to catch the coin, just toss it. With relief, the esteemed scientist took on the role feeling the opportunity to spread her message to a huge audience was well worth taking time from her 300-day annual schedule as a UN Peace Ambassador and conservationist speaking on behalf of animal welfare and preserving the planet.
In addition to the grand marshal carriage with the world's premiere primatologist and three youth leaders from her international Roots and Shoots program on board, two precedent-setting floats called world attention to the plight of domestic animals. "Canines with Courage" celebrated the privately funded Military Working Dog Teams National Monument to be dedicated in October. Service animals in all branches of the armed forces finally are winning full military honors rather than being labeled "equipment" often discarded in foreign lands when duty ends. Now, courageous canines are to be treated humanely, battle wounds treated, retired and adopted rather than abandoned or euthanized.
The second float featuring animals carried live pets available for adoption. The message was that there is a determined, collaborative effort to eliminate mass euthanasia of shelter pets in the 12 overcrowded Los Angeles city and county shelters. Thought impossible, a milestone goal was reached in December, when no adoptable pet was killed for lack of space in the entire system. This extraordinary feat will be repeated only with public awareness and sustained participation in shelter adoption. Accompanying Goodall's carriage for a part of the parade route was a homeless dog. When questioned about the connection, Goodall explained: "He was walking for the homeless dogs of America. Dogs have always been very, very important in my life. When I was a child, I grew up with a dog. And when I went to Cambridge University to get my Ph.D., the professors told me I couldn't talk about chimpanzees having personalities, minds or emotions, because that was unique to us. I immediately knew they were wrong because of my dog. My guinea pigs had different personalities. All animals do."
On the Jane Goodall Institute website is the Rose Bowl network broadcast video recorded to express Goodall's interpretation of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!", the Rose Bowl Parade theme from Dr. Seuss: "New Year's Day symbolizes the opportunity to work towards new goals and experience new beginnings and to make a difference. My dream for New Year's Day is that everyone think of the places we can all go if we work together to make the world a better place." The institute website features simple action ideas any one can take to make that difference. "It's up to us to save some of these amazing places that our children today can go to for the future. Millions and millions of people making the right choices for the future is going to lead to the kind of change we need."
In the Tournament of Roses press release, president Sally Bixby relates: "We selected our theme, 'Oh, the Places You'll Go!' with Dr. Goodall in mind as grand marshal. The theme can be interpreted as a celebration of accomplishment, discovery and travel of course, but equally valid is its implicit call to action. We think Dr. Goodall's life story is a testament to the sense of adventure and openness to possibility that this phrase suggests: As a young woman, she defied convention to follow her dreams, and she has committed herself to a life of global citizenship, inspiring children and adults alike along the way."
Can 2013 bring us together to get on with the serious work of caring for our earth, its living beings and each other? Propelled by a spectacular Rose Bowl kickoff on January 1, this must be the year for individual commitment and action.
- Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help "Keep Tahoe Kind." Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.