Books·Canada Reads 2019

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll

Andrew Westoll won the RBC Taylor Prize for his account of his time at a chimpanzee refuge.
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is a nonfiction book by Andrew Westoll. (Samantha Francis/HarperCollins)

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll is on the Canada Reads 2019 longlist. Canada Reads 2019 is about finding one book to move you. The final five books and the panellists defending them will be revealed on Jan. 31, 2019.

The 2019 debates will take place March 25-28, 2019 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan

About The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

Andrew Westoll spent months at Fauna Sanctuary, a refuge for 13 chimps rescued from a research lab, as a volunteer caregiver. In The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, Westoll vividly recounts his adventures in the chimp house and the heart-wrenching histories of its residents. He arrives with dreams of striking up an immediate friendship with the legendary Tom, a father figure to the rest of the chimps. Tom proves the greatest teacher to the indomitable Gloria Grow, who presides over the sanctuary. Through Westoll's eyes, we witness the chimps' remarkable recovery first-hand. 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 to learn how to be chimps again. (From Harper Perennial)

Heartrending and heart-warming, this is a stunning and important work of art and documentary and science.- 2012 Charles Taylor Prize jury

Andrew Westoll won the Charles Taylor Prize (now known as the RBC Taylor Prize) for The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary in 2012.

Andrew Westoll on what we share with chimps

"Your family isn't just who you're related to. It's who you've grown up with, who you've suffered with and who you've triumphed with. And that's the real message of the book. Gloria [Grow]'s family includes humans and chimpanzees and they all rely on each other. 

The aggression and competitiveness of us is only half the human story and compassion makes up the other half- Andrew Westoll

"[I hope readers take away] how incredibly compassionate humans are capable of being. I feel like the sort of aggression and competitiveness of us is only half the human story and compassion makes up the other half — and empathy. And the other thing I really want people to understand is how resilient animals — humans included — can be." 

Watch Andrew Westoll's full interview here

From the book

"Smell my phone," says Gloria Grow as I climb into her Jeep at Montreal's Trudeau Airport. She guns the engine and hands me her cell phone. "Go on. Smell it."

These are Gloria's first words to me in person. We've already had two long phone conversations, between my home in Toronto and her farm in Quebec. By the end of those talks she'd invited me to move in with her family and write a book about them. But at no point did Gloria seem like the sort of person who would ask a virtual stranger to smell her phone.

From The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll ©2011. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

Other books by Andrew Westoll

Interviews with Andrew Westoll

Andrew Westoll On The Chimpanzees' Great Escape

12 years ago
Duration 2:50
Featured VideoWestoll tells a story about what happened when a group of chimps spent the night out of their cages.

Andrew Westoll

12 years ago
Duration 3:06
Featured VideoWinner of the Charles Taylor Prize talks to CBC's Sian Jones about his win and his relationship with the chimps of Fauna sanctuary.
Featured VideoAndrew Westoll on his novel set in South America about a scientist studying capuchin monkeys.