Vanessa Woods biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Vanessa Woods.

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Vanessa Woods
Photo: Gretchen Mathison

Vanessa Woods

Vanessa Woods Biography

Vanessa Woods is a research assistant, journalist, and author of children’s books. A member of the Hominoid Psychology Research Group, she works with Duke University as well as Lola Ya Bonobo in Congo. She is also a feature writer for the Discovery Channel, and her writing has appeared in publications such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa. Her first book, It’s Every Monkey for Themselves, was published in Australia in 2007. Woods lives in North Carolina with her husband, scientist Brian Hare.

This biography was last updated on 07/22/2010.

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Interview

Even before you met Brian, you rescued chimps in Uganda and chased monkeys in Costa Rica. What is it that draws you to working with primates?
They remind me so much of humans. I know I'm not supposed to anthropomorphize, but especially with chimps and bonobos, they share 98.7% of our DNA, a lot of them is human. I feel like I can understand them, in ways I couldn't understand a bug or a sea sponge.

Currently, bonobos only live in Congo. Did they once occupy a broader habitat? If so, does their peaceful nature undermine their ability to survive amongst more ferocious species?
The Congo Basin, where bonobos live, was once larger, and when it shrank, bonobo range shrunk also. But bonobos aren't threatened by other species, because they don't share their habitat with chimpanzees or gorillas. I can't imagine an encounter between chimps and bonobos would work out well for bonobos, so that's lucky, and because they don't have gorillas, a lot of the food they depend on, an herbaceous root, is theirs alone.



You argue inconclusively with Brian about whether humans can learn "to be one people" (p. 156). How can the knowledge that all bonobos innately trust one another help to improve our own sense of trust?
When it comes to cooperation...

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Books by this Author

Books by Vanessa Woods at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

Bonobo Handshake
Bonobo Handshake

by Vanessa Woods

A young woman follows her fiancé to war-torn Congo to study extremely endangered bonobo apes - who teach her a new truth about love and belonging.
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Vanessa Woods but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Tim Butcher

    Tim Butcher

    Tim Butcher is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author. His first book, Blood River, was short listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa. (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Bonobo Handshake

    Try:
    Blood River
    by Tim Butcher

  • Susan Casey

    Susan Casey

    Susan Casey is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks. She served as creative director of Outside Magazine, where she was part ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Bonobo Handshake

    Try:
    The Devil's Teeth
    by Susan Casey

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