One of the World's Foremost Bonobo Researchers
What makes us human? The answer may lie with our closest living relative, the bonobo. Vanessa Woods is a bright young scientist who has lived with bonobos for months on end, studying their behavior and "trying to answer this question: how much of us belongs to bonobos, and how much to us humans." In a sad twist of fate, the bonobo, this animal that may potentially unlock a deep understanding about ourselves, is also the world's most endangered ape, with fewer than 5,000 in the wild. Even worse, they live peacefully and harmoniously in one of the worst war zones in the world, the Congo.
Bonobo Handshake: What We Can Learn From Our Peaceful Cousins in the Congo
Bonobo apes share 98.7 percent of our DNA, and may hold the key to what makes humans, well, human. But unlike their cousins, the chimpanzees, not much is known about them; worse, they are the world's most endangered ape, living in the world's most war-torn country. Against a backdrop of scientific and personal discovery, Vanessa Woods brings us deep into the jungles of the Congo to show us what makes bonobos tick. What can they teach us about community, about harmonious co-existence, and about ourselves? And what is the true meaning of "Bonobo Handshake"? With energy and charm, Woods shares enlightening anecdotes and groundbreaking research, making a powerful case for saving the bonobo, before it's too late.
Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo
In 2005 Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo's capital, Vanessa and her fiance entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA and who live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake. A fascinating memoir of hope and adventure, Bonobo Handshake traces Vanessa's self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings in this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa.
It's Every Monkey for Themselves
Aiming to put as much distance as she could between herself and a dysfunctional relationship, Vanessa Woods left her Pleasantville life in the leafy but safe suburbs of Canberra and headed for the remote, wild, and distinctly unsafe jungles of Costa Rica. She had a research job, a contract with the Disney Channel, and would spend the year working with a small community of dedicated like-minded scientific souls researching the behavior of capuchin monkeys while making a documentary about Costa Rican wildlife. Or so she thought. As it turned out, she didn't get along with her housemates, was stung so often by wasps and killer bees she developed a lethal allergy, and the monkeys were evasive, mean, and aggressive—the only difference between them and her housemates being that at least she could tell her housemates apart. Over the course of a wild and tumultuous year, Vanessa learned that not all monkeys—or people—are alike, that friendship can be more important than sex, and that sometimes it takes a brush with death and an abscess the size of a melon on your head to make you realize that being pretty isn't always enough.