** The Intimate Ape by Shawn Thompson

The Intimate Ape: Orangutans and the Secret Life of a Vanishing Species is a strange book, quite disorganized and focusing as much on various individuals dedicated to saving orangutans as on the apes themselves. The chapters meander from one preserve to another, coming back to various characters on several occasions, and even feature, repeatedly, the author’s tween son, who came along on some trips, a bit dangerous for a child perhaps.

But among the messy presentation there appear many stories of individual orangutans who are described as having unique personalities and, in many cases, unique relationships with the humans who care, or cared, for them. It’s all very unscientific but at the same time evocative and provocative: should we really treat apes as mere “animals”?


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