Winner of the 2012
Charles Taylor Prize for
Literary Non-Fiction

finalist for the bc national award for canadian nonfiction






Andrew Westoll is a born storyteller: The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, written with empathy and skill, tenderness and humour, involves us in a world few understand. And leaves us marvelling at the ways in which chimpanzees are so like us, deserve our help and are entitled to our respect.
— Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, UN Messenger of Peace
Generous and deeply affecting. . . The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is many things: a tribute to an often-misunderstood creature; a study of a gutsy woman determined to protect the species; and a keen inquiry into man’s ambivalent relationship with his nearest relative in the animal kingdom.
— The Walrus
Riveting…. Andrew Westoll provides an opera of dramatic events, heart-rending tragedies and uplifting triumphs. For anyone interested in empathy and recovery, his book is required reading.
— The Globe and Mail

In 1997, a special family of chimpanzees were rescued from a research lab and sent to a rural sanctuary where they could be cared for and loved. For the indomitable Gloria Grow, looking after thirteen great apes is like presiding over a maximum security prison, a Zen retreat, an old folks’ home, and a New York deli during the lunchtime rush. But she is first and foremost creating a refuge for her troubled charges, a place where they can recover and begin to trust humans again.

Only the most intransigent heart will be unmoved…. In Westoll’s hands, Fauna’s 13 chimps – each ravaged by years, sometimes decades, of staggeringly cruel experimentation – are drawn as vividly as characters from the best literature, leaving us with no doubt about their profound sentience. [Appeals to] our hearts and minds in equal measure.
— Quill and Quire (starred review)

Hoping to win some of this trust, journalist Andrew Westoll spent the summer of 2009 at Fauna Sanctuary as a volunteer caregiver. Here he vividly recounts his adventures in the chimphouse and the heart-wrenching histories of its residents. He arrives with dreams of striking up a friendship with the legendary Tom, a father figure to the rest of the chimps and Gloria’s greatest teacher. Instead, Tom haunts Westoll’s dreams. Gradually, though, the rest of the ‘troop’ warm toward Westoll. He befriends Binky, the resident practical joker; Sue Ellen, whose favourite fashion accessory is a beaded necklace; and Chance, who picks the hot peppers off her pizza.

Through Westoll’s eyes, we witness the chimps’ remarkable recovery firsthand. Simple things like establishing friendships, nurturing alliances, grooming one another, and playing games of tickle-chase are all poignant testament to the capacity of these animals to heal — and learn how to be chimps again.

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary blew me away. It is a master work that deserves an audience stretching from the US Congress to medical-school students to the widest possible public.
— Barbara J. King

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