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The Chimpanzee Whisperer: A Life of Love and Loss, Compassion and Conservation

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From survivor of genocide to conservation hero: A moving, heartwarming memoir about a real-life chimpanzee whisperer—now the subject of the award-winning documentary film Pant Hoot.

Stany Nyandwi’s gift for communicating with chimpanzees is so special that world-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall has called him a “chimpanzee whisperer.” His skills and devotion to these creatures—our closest living relatives, with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA—have earned him international awards and sent him on travels within Africa and around the world. But he began life in poverty, born and raised in a dirt-floor, straw-roofed hut in rural Burundi. The Chimpanzee Whisperer is the story of his astonishing life journey.

It is also an African story. Receiving only an elementary education before he quit school, he suffered injustice and tragic loss because of his ethnic group. He began caring for orphaned and rescued chimps in Burundi. When the country descended into civil war and genocide, he was forced to flee with the chimps and endured long separation from his family. Continuing to work with and learn about chimpanzees in Kenya, Uganda, and later South Africa, he made himself into an incomparable authority.

His memoir has adventure, danger, and many unique and touching stories about chimpanzees that show his bond with and understanding of them. As told to award-winning author David Blissett, it reveals a remarkable man who has refused to let circumstances defeat him. Conditioned by hate, wounded by loss, he has lived for love, faith, and compassion, giving new life, as Dr. Jane Goodall writes in her foreword, “to so many chimpanzees whose families, like his own, were torn apart by violence.”

ISBN-13: 9781950994328

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Arcade

Publication Date: 02-22-2022

Pages: 232

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Stany Nyandwi is a leading chimpanzee caregiver and behavioral specialist, awarded and celebrated around the globe. He is currently the primate manager at the Jane Goodall Institute of South Africa Sanctuary, Chimp Eden. In 2019 Stany was the subject of the multi-award-winning short documentary, Pant Hoot, which also features Dr. Jane Goodall. He lives in Uganda with his wife and eight children, four of whom they adopted. David Blissett is an award-winning author of fiction as well as numerous nonfiction works, including Snake Catcher, cowritten with Tony Harrison; Our Primate Family, cowritten with primate expert and conservationist Lou Grossfeldt; and Reflections of Elephants, with photographer Bobby-Jo Clow. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Table of Contents

Authors' Note vii

Foreword Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE ix

Prologue A Spot of Tea and an Escapee 1

Chapter 1 Growing Up in a Land of Broken Hearts 5

Chapter 2 Houseboy Finds Halfway House 19

Chapter 3 Apocalypse Looms 34

Chapter 4 Freedom Flights and Homelessness 47

Chapter 5 Courting Death-Choosing Life 62

Chapter 6 An Island of Shells … and Chimps 76

Chapter 7 Reputation, Integration, and Chimp Tales 91

Chapter 8 What Family Means 110

Chapter 9 Culture Shocks, Candy, and Commendations 126

Chapter 10 What Is Justice? 141

Chapter 11 Moving On 155

Chapter 12 Working in Eden 169

Chapter 13 Riding the Same Truck 184

Helping Chimps 194

Acknowledgments 199