This is a guest post by Vanessa Woods, author of Bonobo Handshake published in May 2010. Vanessa is a Research Scientist in Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University and studies the cognition of bonobos at at Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Congo.
I had been spending a fair bit of time studying bonobos at a sanctuary in Congo, so somehow I missed Sara Gruen’s runaway bestseller Water For Elephants, which is now being made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattison. But this year I was ready and anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ape House, Gruen’s new novel, and one of the few works of fiction ever written about bonobos.
Writing a novel about bonobos is like trying to write about unicorns – most people don’t know they exist. However, unlike unicorns, bonobos are very real. They are our closest living relatives, along with chimpanzees, and share 98.7% of our DNA. But while chimpanzees are male dominated and occasionally beat their females and kill each other, bonobos are female dominated and their society has relatively little violence. Read More