Encountering Gorillas: A Chronicle of Discovery, Exploitation, Understand and Survival

James L. Newman. Rowman & Littlefield, $39, (224p) ISBN 978-1-44221-955-7
Syracuse professor Newman has compiled a thorough history of our interactions with gorillas from the jungle to the cage. Beginning with 19th century sightings that perpetuated more myth than fact, Newman documents the early attempts to capture them which usually ended tragically as they succumbed to human viruses and faulty diets. By the 20th century researchers like George B. Schaller and Dian Fossey contribute valuable insights on the creature’s habits in its natural environment, work that eventually leads to protecting the species in the wild as well as improving their conditions in zoos. A chapter on “famous gorillas” is the most entertaining as Newman details the lives of caged gorillas, such as Binti Jua, the gorilla who saved the life of a three-year-old boy after he fell into its habitat. Unfortunately Newman approaches the subject with no unique point of view, providing a history that reads more like a long Wikipedia entry. His opinions come out in criticisms of the famously controversial Fossey whose lifelong work protecting gorillas in the wild and improving their conditions in captivity is given little praise. Animal rights groups and natural sanctuaries are also criticized in favor of modern day zoos, the only place the author has ever actually encountered a gorilla. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/19/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
Open Ebook - 220 pages - 978-1-4422-1957-1
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