Chimpanzees fascinate people for many reasons. We are struck by the apes' resemblance to humanity, as seen in their use of tools and their complex social lives, and we are moved by the threats that human activity poses to them. Our awareness of our closest living relatives testifies to the efforts of the remarkable people who study these creatures and work to protect them. What motivates someone to dedicate their lives to chimpanzees? How does that reflect on our own species?
Chimpanzee Memoirs brings together a range of chimpanzee experts who tell powerful personal stories about their lives and careers. It features some of the world's preeminent primatologists – including Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal – as well as representatives of a new generation from varied backgrounds (see below table of contents). In addition to field scientists, the book features anthropologists, biologists, psychologists, veterinarians, conservationists, and the director of a chimpanzee sanctuary. Some grew up in the English countryside, others in villages in Congo; some first encountered chimpanzees in a zoo, others in the forests surrounding their homes. All are united by a common purpose: to study and understand chimpanzees in order to protect them in the wild and care for them in zoos and sanctuaries. Contributors share what inspired them, what shaped their career choices, and what motivates them to strive for solutions to the many challenges that chimpanzees face today.
1. Jane Goodall
2. Lilly Ajarova
3. Richard Wrangham
4. John Mitani
5. Caroline Asiimwe
6. Anne Pusey
7. Tetsuro Matsuzawa
8. Christophe Boesch
9. Andrew Whiten
10. Melissa Emery Thompson
11. David Koni
12. Tatyana Humle
13. Brian Hare
14. Raven Jackson-Jewett
15. Frans de Waal
16. Elizabeth Lonsdorf
Stephen Ross is the director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. He is a coeditor of The Mind of the Chimpanzee (2010) and, with Lydia Hopper, Chimpanzees in Context (2020).
Lydia Hopper is an associate professor and director of behavioural management at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is an adjunct scientist at, and was previously assistant director of, the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo.
"Chimpanzees sit in the Venn diagram overlap of topics that are intellectually compelling and those that are emotionally irresistible. Chimpanzee Memoirs shows that it can be fascinating to study the people who have devoted their lives to their fascination with chimps. These superb essays reveal the varying backgrounds that can prompt this obsession, and show that slogging through underbrush out in the field, and battling to save chimps from extinction can both constitute heroism. This is a great read."
– Robert M. Sapolsky, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor, Stanford University
"This compelling and inspiring collection of memoirs should thrill and delight all animal-loving readers. The editors have selected a range of tales from the most famous primatologist of all – Jane Goodall – to little-known local African researchers. Each person tells us how they came to study chimpanzees and how their research turned to passion and then grave concern as chimpanzee populations across Africa dramatically declined. If you're not worried about the future of our closest relatives, you will be after you finish this volume of loving, heartfelt memoirs. And you'll want to do all you can to help them."
– Virginia Morell, author of the New York Times best seller Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel
"Chimpanzee Memoirs is an invaluable collection of essays by a who's who of researchers who know these amazing nonhuman beings in astonishing detail. Reading these pieces, which come straight from the authors' hands and hearts, is an inspirational experience that explains what they did, why they did it, what it all means, and most importantly, what still needs to be done in the future to give these remarkable great apes the best lives possible in an increasingly human-dominated world. I hope it enjoys a global audience because the numerous lessons that are offered can be applied to many different species who depend on our goodwill for their very survival."
– Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, coauthor of A Dog's World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans