The story of how a doctor's experiences with wild chimpanzees influenced his work with his human patients.
As a senior at Stanford in 1973, Crocker was given the chance to be a part of Jane Goodall's study of chimpanzees in the Gombe forest of Tanzania. He lived in a small hut and worked with other field assistants, following mothers and their infants through the jungle and studying their eating, nurturing, and nesting habits. The author developed strong bonds with the animals, particularly one mother, Fifi, and her son, Freud, and he carried lessons forward during his three-decade career as a family doctor in Seattle. Crocker used what he learned from the chimpanzees to help his patients who had children with ADHD or were suffering from feelings of isolation while always feeling the pull of Tanzania in his day-to-day life. He finally decided to return to the country with his son to show him the location and the chimps who had played such a large role in his life. Because expectations were so high, the return trip was filled with both delight and disappointment. Crocker's tale is full of insightful commentary on the nature of animals and the animal nature found in humans. His story of discovery and friendships exudes the deep awe and respect he feels for the chimpanzees and the friends he made as a young man, who have remained constants in his life. He discusses the hopes and fears of parenting and the delicate balance a parent must walk trying to help a child find his own way in the world. Beautiful descriptions of the natural surroundings in Tanzania and the importance of spending time in nature weave their ways throughout the narrative.
An absorbing tale of the profundity of the human-chimp bond and how it can inform interactions among humans.