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190 × 135 × 15 mm
224 pages
100 illustrations, 48 in colour
01 May 2009

Ape John Sorenson

Apes - to look at them is to see ourselves in a mirror. Our close genetic relatives fascinate and unnerve us with their similar behaviour and social personalities. In Ape, John Sorenson delves into our contradictory relationship with the ape, which often reveals as much about us as humans as it does about the apes themselves.

From bonobos and chimpanzees to gibbons, gorillas and orangutans, Ape examines the many ways these remarkable animals are often made to serve as models for humans. Anthropologists use their behaviour to help explain human nature; scientists use them as subjects of biomedical research; and behavioural researchers experiment with the ways apes emulate us. Sorenson explores the challenges to the division between apes and humans, describing ape language experiments and efforts to cross-foster apes by raising them as human children, as well as the ethical questions and challenges presented by animal experimentation and exploitation and by the Great Ape Project, which seeks to extend human rights to these animals.

Ape also examines representations of apes in popular culture, discussing films, advertising and zoos, and considers how apes have been portrayed as caricatures of humans, demonic monsters and clowns. It also looks at the precarious future of apes, many of whom are on the brink of extinction, focusing on the bushmeat crisis in Africa, the loss of habitats and the illegal pet trade, and includes a discussion of the sanctuaries that may offer some hope for their survival.

With many appealing illustrations, Ape is an enlightening read that will challenge our perceptions of both our closest animal relations and ourselves.

Ape is an emotionally powerful book that traces humankind's long and troubled relationship with our closest living relatives . . . John Sorenson packs this little volume with riveting examples . . . At once a lucid cultural history and a manifesto for change’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘Sorenson writes well and carries readers with him, and I found myself appreciating the book more and more as I read on. At times, he writes with suppressed, but barely suppressed, indignation - as when he talks about apes being caged, brutally treated to make them perform, slaughtered for bushmeat, and used as proxies in procedures that could not be performed on humans - for ethical reasons - and his message communicates itself all the more effectively for avoiding emotive language.’ — The Quarterly Review of Biology

‘a compelling book with a clear message. If apes are to survive in the wild we are going to have to put self-interest aside and treat them with the same care and respect as we show towards our human relatives. Their future is in our hands.’ — The Vegan

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John Sorenson is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Brock University, Ontario, where he also teaches critical animal studies.

1        Natural History
2        Thinking about Apes
3        Pets, Captives, Hybrids
4        Looking at Apes
5        Models for Human Behavior
6        Extinction
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Photo Acknowledgements