Zinta's Reviews > Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees

Next of Kin by Roger Fouts
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Jan 05, 09

Read in June, 2002

In doing research for a journalism assignment, I was recommended Fouts' "Next of Kin." I read the book as I prepared for a trip to the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care, a sanctuary of hope in southern Florida for chimpanzees rescued from labs and similar monstrosities, funded by Jane Goodall and other good people. It was a superb introduction to what I was about to witness, and I ended up using a lengthy quote from the book as an epigram to my article about the sanctuary.

Fouts has given an incredible and heart wrenching insight into a world we too often choose to ignore - the world side by side to our own "civilized" one, the world of the animal kingdom. It is, perhaps, our view of it as a separate world from our own that first gets us into trouble. The human being is an arrogant being. We like to think that we are the superior beast - the thinking, feeling, building, progressive being that rules the earth - but so often the human being is not so superior at all, but only... a beast. Fouts takes that arrogance down several notches. He reveals the remarkable intelligence of the chimpanzee mind. He reveals the astounding emotional depth of the chimpanzee heart. He unveils the tragic suffering of the chimpanzee life when we forget these emotional and intellectual capacities. In a time when scientific strides in all fields - space exploration, medical, or other - can easily be made without the torment of our animal brethren, this book bears witness to our human cruelty and argues effectively for an abandonment of such treatment forever. We are not, after all, a superior creature on this planet. We are only one among many, sharing a global environment to which all of our varied species have a right to live in, enjoying our freedom to live our lives without the threat of enslavement by others - human or animal.

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