Birute Galdikas – Canadian primatologist
Birute Galdikas is a Canadian anthropologist, primatologist, ethologist and ecologist of Lithuanian origin.
Birute Marija Filomena Galdikas was born on May 10, 1948 in Wiesbaden. She was born in a family of refugees from Soviet Lithuania. She was the first of four children. In 1949, her family moved to Canada and obtained citizenship. The girl spent her childhood in Toronto.
She studied psychology and biology, and in 1966 Birute received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and zoology at the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1969 she became Master of Anthropology.
During doctoral studies in Los Angeles she met with the legendary primatologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey and became interested in the problems of orangutans in Borneo. Her first expedition to the island was in 1971. She had been studying the life of the great apes for 25 years. Galdikas has made an important contribution to the creation of the national park reserve.
She founded the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Orangutan Foundation International in 1987.
In 1979, Galdikas divorced her first husband and married a native Indonesian man of the Dayak tribe in 1981. She has one son with her first husband and two children with her second.
Today Birute Galdikas is a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby (British Columbia) and extraordinary professor at the National University in Jakarta, as well as the head of the International Fund for the protection of orangutans in Los Angeles.
Gladikas is the author of several books, including Great Ape Odyssey and Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo.
Gladikas was awarded various prizes and awards. In 1995 she became Officer of the Order of Canada.
Birute Galdikas, along with Jane Goodall and outstanding biologist George Schaller, was the winner of the 1997 Tyler Prize for environmental achievements.
Birute starred in the documentary Born To Be Wild 3D which was released in April 2011. She also appeared in the documentaries The Life and Times (TV, 1996), Orangutans: Grasping the Last Branch (1989), The Last Trimate (TV series, 2008).