The most famous primatologist in the world is ape about Bigfoot.
Jane Goodall made her name studying chimpanzees in Africa and by discovering that they, like humans, use tools.
Since then, she has been working to preserve their decreasing numbers via the Jane Goodall Insititute. She also admitted to an interest in the mysterious creature known as Bigfoot, Sasquatch or the Yeti.
"I'm not going to flat-out deny its existence," Goodall said during an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post before a benefit dinner in La Jolla, Calif. "I'm fascinated and would actually love them to exist.
"Of course, it's strange that there has never been a single authentic hide or hair of the Bigfoot, but I've read all the accounts."
As a motor biker was driving through the Grand River area of Ohio in April 2012, an alleged Bigfoot ran across the road and was caught on videotape.
Depicted is an illustration of a creature reported to inhabit the Kemerovo region of Siberia. Scientists from the U.S., Russia and other countries have yet to find one of these creatures known as the Russian Snowman. In early October, researchers claimed to be 95 percent certain that the animal exists.
An alleged footprint of a Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, appears in snow near Mount Everest in 1951. Now, scientists are setting out to find evidence of a reported unknown, hairy, bipedal creature known as the Siberian Snowman.
Bigfoot or bear? Impression left on the driver's side window of a pickup truck owned by Jeffrey Gonzalez. The bizarre image was left by an alleged Bigfoot in California's Sierra National Forest over Memorial Day 2011. DNA samples of the impressions will eventually determine the identity of the animal responsible for them. (See next slide for a close-up of the paw-like impression.)
Close-up of the "paw" print image. The impression was reportedly left by Bigfoot on the window of a pickup truck in the California Sierra National Forest over Memorial Day weekend 2011.
Bigfoot or bear? Pictured is a second impression left on the rear side window of the same truck from the previous slides. According to forensic/law enforcement photographer Mickey Burrow, "What you're seeing is a swipe mark. It looks like a small hand, swiping to the left, leaving another impression, and there's hair within those areas -- you can see where the hair would be."
This footprint was found over Memorial Day weekend, 2011, near Fresno, Calif. by a group of campers who were on a Bigfoot-hunting expedition. The print, measuring approximately 12 inches, was found near a truck where possible DNA evidence was left behind by more than one Bigfoot creature.
A film still shows what former rodeo rider Roger Patterson said is the American version of the Abominable Snowman. He said pictures of the creature, estimated at 7 1/2 feet tall, were taken northeast of Eureka, Calif., in October 1967.
This footprint was found in 2008 in the Sierra National Forest near Fresno, Calif.
Thomas Byers snapped this photo of "Bigfoot" along Golden Valley Church Road in Rutherford County on March 22, 2011.
Bill Willard is the leader of a group searching for evidence of a Sasquatch or Bigfoot creature, spotted by, among others, his two sons in Spotsylvania County. He is shown on May 19 in Thornburg, Va., with a plaster cast he made from a suspicious footprint several years ago.
This still frame image from video provided by Bigfoot Global LLC shows what Whitton and Dyer claimed was a Bigfoot or Sasquatch creature in an undisclosed area of a northern Georgia forest in June 2008.
This October 2007 image was taken by an automated camera set up by a hunter in a Pennsylvania forest the previous month. Some said it was a Bigfoot creature; others believed it was just a sick bear.
A preserved skull and hand said to be that of a Yeti or Abominable Snowman is on display at Pangboche monastery, near Mount Everest.
Idaho State University professor Jeffrey Meldrum displays what he said is a cast of a Bigfoot footprint from eastern Washington in September 2006. Some scientists said the school should revoke Meldrum's tenure.
Joedy Cook, director of the Ohio Center for Bigfoot Studies, talks to a visitor to his booth on Oct. 15, 2005, at the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson, Texas. The event, hosted by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, drew enthusiasts and researchers of the legendary creature.
Ken Gerhard of Houston, Texas, holds a duplicate plaster cast footprint Oct. 15, 2005, at the Texas Bigfoot Conference. The event, hosted by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, drew enthusiasts and researchers of the legendary creature.
Josh Gates, host of Syfy TV's "Destination: Truth," holds a plaster cast of what Malaysian ghost hunters said was a Bigfoot footprint in 2006.
Al Hodgson, a volunteer guide at the Willow Creek-China Flat Musuem in California, holds up a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot imprint in 2000. The museum houses a collection of research material donated by the estate of Bob Titmus, who spent his life trying to track the creature.
Costume maker Philip Morris, who does not believe the Bigfoot legend, claimed the Patterson-Gimlin film showed a person wearing a gorilla suit that he made.
Goodall is perhaps the most famous natural scientist to at least entertain the notion that the creatures exist. In 2002, she said during an interview with NPR that she was sure of it.
"I've talked to so many native Americans who all describe the same sounds, two who have seen them. I've probably got about, oh, 30 books that have come from different parts of the world, from China from, from all over the place, and there was a little tiny snippet in the newspaper just last week which says that British scientists have found what they believed to be a yeti hair and that the scientists in the Natural History Museum in London couldn't identify it as any known animal," she told interviewer Ira Flatow.
Goodall conceded there hasn't been the smoking gun that proves the existence of Sasquatch, and told Flatow, "of course, the big, the big criticism of all this is, 'Where is the body?' You know, why isn't there a body? I can't answer that, and maybe they don't exist, but I want them to."
While Goodall is interested in what other researchers are doing in regards to Bigfoot, protecting chimpanzees and other great apes keeps her too busy to comb the woods of North America searching herself.
"Chimpanzees are very endangered," she told HuffPost. "They only live in Africa and when I began in 1960, there were probably close to 2 million living in Africa. Today, it's less than 300,000 spread over 21 nations with the only significant numbers in the Congo."
Most people grasp the concept of ape extinction on an abstract basis, but Goodall said she believes that when they see live primates such as Crystal the capuchin monkey on the new NBC sitcom "Animal Practice," they inadvertantly assume the animals aren't endangered.
"I think people have been getting the wrong message through Hollywood and other such outfits for a very long time," she said. "People don't realize, first, the cruelty, to train the chimp for entertainment. You must take it away from its mother when it's very young, so the little thing never has the chance to learn how to be a chimp because they learn, just as we do.
"By the time they're 7 or 8 and too strong to be used as entertainment or pets, or whatever people have taken them for, by then, they don't know how to be a chimp so their future is pretty bleak."
Goodall can be seen Oct. 9 when Animal Planet airs "Jane's Journey," a 2010 documentary about her life and work.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story incorrectly referred to The Jane Goodall Insitute as The Jane Goodall Foundation.