For more information on apes

The classification “great ape” consists of bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, humans, and orangutans. These are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom — we share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. Bonobos were only identified as a species distinct from chimpanzees in 1933.

Louis Leakey sent three women into the field to learn about gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees over 40 years ago. I’ve met two of them and the other one died in 1985. Biruté Galdikas has been studying orangutans since 1971, and Jane Goodall has been studying chimpanzees since 1960. Dian Fossey started studying gorillas in 1967 but was murdered — the case was never solved.

Here are a few books, web sites, and DVDs that will give you more information on great apes.


  • general
    • Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape — Frans de Waal
    • Gorillas in the Mist — Dian Fossey
    • Reflections of Eden — Biruté Galdikas
    • Through a Window — Jane Goodall
  • apes using language
    • The Education of Koko — Francine Patterson & Eugene Linden
    • Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind — Sue Savage-Rumbaugh & Roger Lewin
    • Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees — Roger Fouts & Stephen Tukel Mills

web sites


  • movie
    • Gorillas in the Mist starring Sigourney Weaver
  • documentaries
    • Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees
    • Nature: A Conversation with Koko

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