Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape

De Waal, Frans. Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape. Berkley: University of California Press, 1997.

Not to be snide or anything but how can you forget the ape when you didn’t know the ape? Everyone lumped Bonobo apes with Chimpanzees because they seemed more similar than different. They weren’t forgotten, just misunderstood. de Waal goes to great lengths to compare and contrast the distinctions between the two primates.

From the very beginning you learn that Bonobo apes are different from any other kind of primate with the description, “female-centered, egalitarian primate species that substitutes sex for aggression” (p 4). The sexuality of this species is very much celebrated and discussed. So much so that the sexuality of Bonobos is argued to be a window to the aspects of human sexuality. But sex is not the only discussion worth having about Bonobos. There is social life, a political life, a family life worth exploring. But, what makes Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape so appealing is its photography. Big, glossy “coffee-table book” pages illustrate the allure of these primates. Their facial expressions, family values and even their sexuality is on display in eight different photo essays.

Favorite quote: isn’t really a quote at all. It’s an illustration of the hands and feet of primates and man (p 27).

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Our Primates, Ourselves” (p 180). Bonobo was forgotten in the index yet de Waal’s name wasn’t. Interesting.

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