THE CHIMPS OF MOUNT ASSERIK by Stella Brewer

THE CHIMPS OF MOUNT ASSERIK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Can orphaned chimps, raised by humans, be returned to the wild? Brewer runs a kind of halfway house for motherless chimps on Mount Asserik (Senegal), preparing them for adult independence. Daughter of the British director of a Gambian nature reserve, she grew up tending green vervet monkeys and serval cats, spent a year at Woburn Wild Animal Kingdom, and returned home where she stumbled into chimp rehabilitation. This background provides a dutiful preamble; once the growing, mischievous chimps are relocated to Niokolo Koba for survival training, the narrative quickens. Life in the forest includes daily lessons as Brewer, deeply committed, teaches by example: how to build a nest, sleep in a tree, dig for--and eat--termites. Each chimp tests his mettle and reacts differently--two cower and run to her when the first wild chimps appear. Learning paces vary (Yula, a zoo chimp, moving cautiously, others adjusting quickly) and William, a household chimp from his first weeks, excels: he shares his baobob fruit, improves on her rope bridge, and once made himself a cup of coffee, dropping stones in to cool it faster. Brewer is indebted to friend and distant neighbor Jane Goodall--In the Shadow of Man encouraged her--but her book owes more to Joy Adamson's Born Free: she takes pride in each achievement, grieves at the few losses, and kisses and hugs like crazy--the photographs look like a family album.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1978
Publisher: Knopf