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A Chimp in the Family: The True Story of Two Infants--One Human, One Chimpanzee--Growing Up Together

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In 1990, when Vince Smith—currently manager of the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund's mountain gorilla conservation program— was working as a senior keeper at Chester Zoo in the English countryside, a newborn chimpanzee in his care was abandoned by her mother. Named Sophie, the infant chimp was taken home and hand-reared by Vince and his wife. Six months later another new baby ar In 1990, when Vince Smith—currently manager of the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund's mountain gorilla conservation program— was working as a senior keeper at Chester Zoo in the English countryside, a newborn chimpanzee in his care was abandoned by her mother. Named Sophie, the infant chimp was taken home and hand-reared by Vince and his wife. Six months later another new baby arrived: Oliver, their son. A Chimp in the Family is the compelling and entertaining account of Sophie's life. Vince Smith vividly describes the parallel upbringing of Sophie and Oliver—through her early years with Vince and his family, her traumatic journey back to the zoo and her unsuccessful efforts to socialize with other chimps, her repatriation to Africa and reunion with her human foster family, and her integration in a semi-wild group of chimpanzees. A book both humorous (a family outing with both babies to the local pizzeria) and ultimately heartbreaking, A Chimp in the Family provides fascinating photographs and insights into the nature of our closest-living relatives—as well as the nature of human development.


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In 1990, when Vince Smith—currently manager of the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund's mountain gorilla conservation program— was working as a senior keeper at Chester Zoo in the English countryside, a newborn chimpanzee in his care was abandoned by her mother. Named Sophie, the infant chimp was taken home and hand-reared by Vince and his wife. Six months later another new baby ar In 1990, when Vince Smith—currently manager of the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund's mountain gorilla conservation program— was working as a senior keeper at Chester Zoo in the English countryside, a newborn chimpanzee in his care was abandoned by her mother. Named Sophie, the infant chimp was taken home and hand-reared by Vince and his wife. Six months later another new baby arrived: Oliver, their son. A Chimp in the Family is the compelling and entertaining account of Sophie's life. Vince Smith vividly describes the parallel upbringing of Sophie and Oliver—through her early years with Vince and his family, her traumatic journey back to the zoo and her unsuccessful efforts to socialize with other chimps, her repatriation to Africa and reunion with her human foster family, and her integration in a semi-wild group of chimpanzees. A book both humorous (a family outing with both babies to the local pizzeria) and ultimately heartbreaking, A Chimp in the Family provides fascinating photographs and insights into the nature of our closest-living relatives—as well as the nature of human development.

30 review for A Chimp in the Family: The True Story of Two Infants--One Human, One Chimpanzee--Growing Up Together

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    An inherently interesting story, but marred by infelicitous writing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emma Kaufmann

    An amazingly sweet and moving story about a zookeeper who hand rears a chimp called Sophie. I can't tell you everything that happens but she really does become part of the families and through many ups and downs they form a lasting bond. The chimp also grows up side by side with Vince's son and that is an adorable story too. An amazingly sweet and moving story about a zookeeper who hand rears a chimp called Sophie. I can't tell you everything that happens but she really does become part of the families and through many ups and downs they form a lasting bond. The chimp also grows up side by side with Vince's son and that is an adorable story too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    Interesting account of raising a chimp and a baby, what it's really like to live in Africa and deal with insects, wildlife, floods, corrupt political officials, and the politics of chimpanzee refuges. Many sad parts, but many endearing sections as well. Interesting account of raising a chimp and a baby, what it's really like to live in Africa and deal with insects, wildlife, floods, corrupt political officials, and the politics of chimpanzee refuges. Many sad parts, but many endearing sections as well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Claire Aiken

    I read it a long time ago, but I thought it was a good book. However, somewhere deep inside of me was telling me it was wrong because you shouldn't keep wild animals as pets... I read it a long time ago, but I thought it was a good book. However, somewhere deep inside of me was telling me it was wrong because you shouldn't keep wild animals as pets...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  8. 5 out of 5

    Monique

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Annette

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pamsuza

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michele

  14. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shonessi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  18. 5 out of 5

    Petra X home again home again jiggety jig

  19. 5 out of 5

    Annmarie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aga

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Locke

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Miller

  23. 5 out of 5

    Greg Cummings

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katy Tanis

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tara Velardi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg Inscoe

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dean Goddard

  29. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jen

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