Tag: vanessa woods

Your Inner Bonobo

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 8, 2010 6:46 am

I’ve blogged in the past about Duke primate scientist Vanessa Woods and now I encourage readers to go visit her newest blog at Psychology Today Your Inner Bonobo where she writes about bonobos, sex, and whatever happens to be on her mind on any given day. Besides being one of my best friends, Woods is a fantastic and funny writer, and her forthcoming book Bonobo Handshake debuts in June. Here’s a sample from Tuesday:

‘Can animals be gay?’ – are you serious NYT?

IMG_8643Having a story about same sex sex in animals then leaving out bonobos is like writing an article about big ears without mentioning elephants.The science of homosexuality in animals (or socio-sexual behavior) and then you talk about albatrosses?? that don’t even have a clitoris?? Or do they? the point is, even if they do have them, it’s not like you would ever notice. I know the albatrosses are the latest thing, and I love albatross and think it’s really cool the female raise babies together, but does that really compete with two females rubbing their clitorises together with ever increasing frenzy until they orgasm – which by the way helps them reduce social tension and live in a world without violence??

I can only think that the journalist

a. doesn’t know what bonobos are

b. got scared by the 2007 New Yorker article saying bonobos don’t even have that much sex

c. is a lesbian albatross doing her own PR campaign.

And that’s just the beginning, so go check it out


Wedded Bliss

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | February 7, 2010 10:24 am

This week’s edition of The Science of Kissing Gallery features our first wedding kiss from one of my very best friends, author and primate researcher Vanessa Woods, along with her husband, Duke anthropologist Brian Hare. It’s hard not to smile at this happy moment from their wedding in Australia.

Submit your original photograph or artwork to the gallery here and remember to include relevant links. And thanks for so many funny, thoughtful, unusual, and creative images already!



The Book I'm Most Anticipating For 2010

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 28, 2009 11:47 am

Vanessa Woods is not only one of my dearest friends, she’s also an extremely gifted writer. Currently at Duke University, she studies the cognitive development of chimpanzees and bonobos at sanctuaries in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Next June, Vanessa’s latest book, Bonobo Handshake, will be published–and I can’t wait…

Check out this video and read the description below:

Bonobo Handshake

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 fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7% of our DNA. Vanessa soon discovered that bonobos 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. Courageous and extraordinary, Almost French meets The Poisonwood Bible in this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Books, Conservation, Culture, Education
MORE ABOUT: vanessa woods

Introducing The Science of Kissing Gallery

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 6, 2009 10:39 am

[Note: The Science of Kissing Gallery has now moved to tumblr!]

The weekly Sunday Snog has became far more popular than I anticipated when I came up with idea for fun while composing The Science of Kissing. Many readers have emailed their own photos and artwork and I’ve received multiple requests for a single link to view all the pictures. Sounds good to me.

Introducing The Science of Kissing Gallery: presently under-construction and located on the right sidebar of our blog. This gallery will feature collected kisses from across time, space, and species. Discover has agreed to help by creating a special page with thumbnails–much like The Loom’s fantastic Science Tattoo Emporium–so watch for the official launch of this new page over the coming weeks! You can submit your original photo or artwork for consideration at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com. The more creative, the better.

Now onto this week’s contribution from my good friend, Duke primate researcher Vanessa Woods. Her highly-anticipated book entitled, Bonobo Handshake debuts next summer!

bonobo kiss


Why Chimpanzees Are NOT Pets

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | November 13, 2009 10:49 am

In February, 55-year-old Charla Nash made headlines around the world when she was brutally attacked by a friend’s 200-pound pet chimpanzee. She decided to reveal her disfigured face on Oprah this week and I am posting a clip* because I have extremely strong emotions concerning this particular issue–foremost as a result of my conservation biology background and also due to my friendship with science writer Vanessa Woods and her husband, evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Brian Hare. Together they study sanctuary orphans in Congo and often mothers have been killed so the babies can be sold as pets.

Most people still do not seem to understand the gravity of this issue. After watching, make sure to read Brian’s original guest contribution on the science behind why chimpanzees are not pets below the fold.

(A warning to readers of graphic content.)

The Science Behind Why Chimpanzees Are Not Pets
by Brian Hare, Evolutionary Anthropologist at Duke University

ngamba b 074Last month, a 200 pound male chimpanzee named Travis mauled a woman outside the home where he has been living with his owner Sandra Herold. Charla Nash was nearly killed by Travis and now has life changing wounds to her face while Travis was stabbed by his owner with a butcher knife and shot dead by the police.

Was this incidence preventable or just a freak accident? Should chimpanzees and other primates be kept as pets? What is the effect of the primate pet trade not only on the welfare of these “pets” but on their species survival in the wild? To answer these question I consider what science has to say and draw on both my own work on domestication and over 50 years of research by primatologists on wild chimpanzees. Read More


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