Almost everyone’s heard the true tale of the person who taught a gorilla named Koko to use sign language, so it’s pretty well accepted that primates can learn a lot from humans. But did anyone consider the opposite: Humans might actually be able to learn how to live better by watching our primate cousins?
That’s the theory pushed forth in a new book from a Montecito-residing author named Andrew Y. Grant. Called Nearly Human: The Gorilla’s Guide to Good Living, the book is a blow-by-blow behavioral account of how gorillas act much more humanlike than we’ve previously thought, and that there’s something for us to learn in watching them. Illustrated simply by Zachary Horvath and organized into short bursts of information, Grant posits that we could become stronger parents, less violent societies, and better communicators if we emulated gorillas more.
And as someone who’s spent a lot of time around the surprisingly gentle beasts, Grant would know. He currently owns the Blackpool Zoo in England, and was the deputy director of the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, the managing director of the London Zoo, and a former executive at both Universal Studios and Busch Gardens. His day job these days is for Grant Leisure, a British company focused on enhancing tourists attractions around the world.
But best of all, the book is really aimed at raising awareness and stoking the conservation fire. Some profits from the book will be donated to the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, and it’s sure to get more young folks tuned into the gorilla way of life. If his message connects, maybe his follow-up will be Nearly Gorilla.
Grant will discuss and sign copies of his book on Thursday, October 18, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Space is limited, so call 962-5339 for info. Grant will also discuss and sign his book at the Karpeles Museum on November 29, at 7 p.m.