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To the Best of Our Knowledge: Going Ape Radio/TV Program

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Going Ape

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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, Vanessa Woods went to the Congo because she fell in love with a man. She stayed because she fell in love with bonobo apes. (She married the man). A research scientist at Duke University, she's the author of Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo. She tells Anne Strainchamps what we should know about bonobos.

Next, Jane Goodall is the name best known in the world when you talk about chimpanzees. She was the first to observe them using tools and hunting other animals. Now celebrating her fiftieth anniversary of fieldwork in the Gombe Preserve, she talks to Steve Paulson about many things, including animal rights and spirituality.

Then, researchers opened the chimpanzee genome in 2005, raising a number of fascinating questions. Chief among them: if we share most of our DNA with chimpanzees, what is it that makes us different? Science reporter Jon Cohen went all over the world in search of answers, and collects them in his book Almost Chimpanzee: Searching for What Makes Us Human, in Rainforests, Labs, Sanctuaries, and Zoos. He tells Jim Fleming some of the things he found. One of the stories Cohen uncovered was of a Russian researcher who tried to breed a human/ape hybrid. When Laurence Gonzales read that, it gave him the beginnings of a novel. He tells Jim Fleming about Lucy, in which a mysterious 15 year old girl is discovered in the Congo.

Finally, Sara Gruen's novel Water for Elephants featured a circus elephant in captivity. In her new novel Ape House, a family of bonobo apes are captured to be the main attraction in a reality TV show. Sara Gruen tells Anne Strainchamps she studied linguistics and learned a system of lexigrams so she could communicate directly with the apes housed at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. [Broadcast Date: December 23, 2011]

Listen to:

  • Bonobo Handshake by Vanessa Woods
  • Lucy by Laurence Gonzales
  • Ape House by Sara Gruen
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    (P) and ©2011 Wisconsin Public Radio

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