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Chimps Of Fauna Sanctuary [Hardcover]

Andrew Westoll
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 25 2011

In 1997 Gloria Grow started a sanctuary for chimps retired from biomedical research on her farm outside Montreal. For the indomitable Gloria, caring for thirteen great apes is like presiding over a maximum security prison, a Zen sanctuary and an old folks’ home all rolled into one. But she is first and foremost creating a refuge for her troubled charges -- a place where they can recover and begin to trust humans again.

Hoping to win some of this trust, journalist Andrew Westoll spent months at Fauna Sanctuary as a volunteer, and in this book he vividly recounts his time in the chimp house and the histories of its residents. He arrives with dreams of striking up an immediate friendship with the legendary Tom, the wise face of The Great Ape Protection Act, but Tom seems all too content to ignore him. Gradually, though, old man Tommie and the rest of the “troop” begin to warm towards Westoll as he learns the routines of life at the farm and realizes just how far the chimps have come.

Brimming with empathy and winning stories of Gloria and her charges, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is an absorbing, big-hearted book that grapples with questions of just what we owe to the animals who are our nearest genetic relations.

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Product Description


?This book will make you think deeply about our relationship with great apes. It amazed me to discover the behaviors and feelings of the chimpanzees.? ?Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation ()

About the Author

ANDREW WESTOLL is an award-winning narrative journalist and internationally published author. A former biologist and primatologist, his first book, The Riverbones, is a travel memoir set in the jungles of Suriname, where he once lived as a monkey researcher. Andrew now lives and writes in Toronto. Visit him at

Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST read. July 21 2011
This wonderful book will reach into the heart of the reader and bring about a gamut of emotions. I laughed at the author's interactions with the chimps, cried at their stories and evidence of psychological damage done to them at the hands of humans and marveled at their amazing capacity to trust humans again. This book clearly shows the many similarities between these apes and ourselves. They are so much like us yet have been treated so poorly. Andrew Westoll shows us that despite their treatment these chimps can touch our heart and look into our souls like no other animal on earth. This is definitely a read again and again book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious and painful read Sept. 3 2011
As difficult as it for me, as it is for any animal lover, to read about the cruelty that humans can impose on our chimpanzee cousins, I am grateful that Westoll wrote this book. It is a glimpse into the heart of the chimps and those who care for and love them. It is painful to imagine the details of the trauma that these and other experimental chimps endure. We need this book, and as many people as possible to read it, to bring to light the inhumanity of what goes on behind closed lab doors.
Gloria Grow, the woman who co-founded Fauna, speaks about how people need to have something that they care about and are willing to fight for outside of themselves. She is an inspiration in her passion and fight for the chimps. But the stars of the book are the chimps themselves with their traumatized and gloriously authentic personalities.

Westoll mentioned something earlier on in the book about how people, when they come into contact with the chimps, see reflections of themselves at a primal level. I found myself consistently making comparisons between the limitations and capacities of humans and apes and how even in the midst of the scars of mistreatment and the cruelty that we are capable of, there is the possibility for healing and love to flourish. It is redemption at its finest.

The only negative that I would mention, and it is minor, is that I struggled to get a clear picture in my mind of the how the sanctuary is laid out - I needed a visual image of how the caretaker humans and chimps were connecting. Some more detailed photos would have helped.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks to the author Aug. 5 2011
This book brings to light the plight of chimps used in medical research settings.
It was disturbing to read what the chimps were subjected to but the book revolves mainly
on their recovery at the sanctuary. I am grateful for having read this book and even more
so to the author for raising awareness on the matter. God bless the author and all the volunteers at
the Fauna sanctuary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb account of a timely issue Jan. 15 2012
Andrew Westoll's latest book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, explores the fraught relationship between two great apes, humans and chimpanzees. This exploration occurs in the context of Westoll's personal account of the time he spent at Fauna Sanctuary. Fauna Sanctuary is a refuge for chimpanzees who had previously been used in research, or in the entertainment industry, or had otherwise been raised and then rejected by humans. Against this backdrop, Westoll, a primatologist by training, examines the range of human perspectives of chimpanzees, from those who view chimps as useful laboratory animals, to those who view them as sentient sister-species deserving of the same consideration we afford our own species.

This said, as the title of the book implies, most of Westoll's account is given over to the chimpanzees of Fauna Sanctuary themselves. This is the great strength of the book. Each chimp has its own back story, its own personality, its own very personal journey from a horrific life to one of attempted rehabilitation. Throughout, Westoll never shies away from some of the more unsavoury aspects of the human-chimpanzee relationship. He compels the reader to test their own perspective of the relationship - where we place ourselves in the panoply of beings on Earth, particularly the species to which we are most closely related. In examining how the chimps fare in their personal transition from a life of subjugation to life "as a chimp" at the sanctuary, Westoll accomplishes the feat of balancing the value of being human with the value of being chimp. In doing so, he forces the reader to address the moral issues surrounding the treatment of not only chimpanzees, but other non-human species as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chimps captivate. Jan. 26 2012
Andrew Westoll's passion for his subject is what brings this book to life. He draws you in with confidence in your intelligence and humanity and walks you through the chimps' darkest days but never leaves you there too long before bringing you back into the light of Fauna Sanctuary. His science is accessible, his humour is delightful, and his observations are profound. Westoll's writing style is that of a gifted storyteller; one who captivates his audience and leaves them changed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and well-written Oct. 28 2012
By Cannuck
I was surprised not to have seen this book reviewed, or heard about it previously. It was recommended by someone in my book group who has worked at Fauna sanctuary. I found it well-written and moving, and I recommend it for anyone who has some interest in animal welfare.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, funny and touching
The personalities of the chimps are described with fondness and respect. The effects of years of undergoing medical testing brought me to tears.
Published 16 months ago by Patti Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
Absolutely fantastic read. The reader develops an intimate relationship with the chimps and the story of their lives. Sad, funny and touching.
Published 17 months ago by Nellie Dale
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
I loved this tear jerking book. How can people treat these almost human creatures so cruelly? Pulling babies from their mothers just when they are newly born? Read more
Published 19 months ago by A. Strickland-clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Conflicted
I was in turn elated, broken hearted, angry and jubilant reading this book. My disappointment in the well educated medical people doing the things they did to these apes was huge. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Dawn E. Durnin
5.0 out of 5 stars Un livre merveilleux
Depuis que je suis toute petite, j'adore les chimpanzés, gorilles etc...

J'ai entendu parler de la Fondation Fauna il y a quelques années suite à un... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Joanne Sanscartier
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant - a must-read
Just finished reading The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Like any great book, you won't want it to end. Brilliantly paced - Andrew Westoll does a great job of telling the often funny... Read more
Published 23 months ago by A. Naidoo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
One of the best books I've ever read! Andrew Westoll describes the horrors of chimpanzee research and the amazing rescue work of Fauna. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2012 by YdS
5.0 out of 5 stars chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
This book made me cry. I saw this sanctuary on T.V. and feel in love with all the chimps. What a wonderful story? I want to donate to this sanctuary after reading the book. Read more
Published on April 9 2012 by fran
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