Author: Andrew Westoll
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hidden facility for mentally unstable chimps in the middle of the Quebec countryside.
Yes this is the setting of Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
No this is not one of those crazy spec-fics I love to gush about, with chimps smart enough to smoke a pipe, a lumberjack sidekick with a ridiculous quebecois accent, and crazy female scientists with double Ds, (seriously that is an awesome idea right there).
But digressions aside, it’s a nonfictional account of Andrew Westoll’s summer job at Fauna Sanctuary, cleaning up chimp crap, spiking home-made smoothies with chimp meds, and trying (and failing much) to be friends with hairy teethed former lab experiments. It’s also my envy that summer jobs for me nodding off in rush hours, and making nice to asshole customers.
Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary has all the elements of great fiction, his colleagues are well-motivated such as Gloria, the big cheese and the heart that keeps Fauna Sanctuary running and loved, to Mario, the sanctuaries main handyman (whom i could only picture always wore overalls and a great moustache) not to mention the chimps themselves whom Andrew devotes (and succeeds) in humanizing (or is it chimpizing?)
The careful weave of characters and the factual i.e. the history between man and chimp from explorations in Africa to lab experiments in America, is a tried-and-true formula of nonfiction that is done well here to keep the plotting tight and fresh, so gold star, Andrew, have a lollipop. However this book doesn’t get away with full marks, as the story fails by taking a hard brake to slathering over a US bill which came out to stop chimp experimentation, and reads like an elaborate change.org plea (the bill died by the ways so yeah…).
Yet what ultimately gives “Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary” a reason to deserve the Charles Taylor award prize (where someone thought it good enough to give Andrew $25k for his book) are little slips of story at the end of many chapters, explanations for why Fauna Sanctuary is why it is and why the chimps are why they are. For reason why the chimp houses are designed around the lab cages the chimps were imprisoned in for their childhood, there is a empty chimp cage at Fauna Sanctuary placed,
“No one can visit the chimp house and meet it’s inhabitants without passing this monument”
Sort of a downer, but mentally unstable chimps aren’t always jokes.
Recommended: In between seeing the animals at the zoo, at the zoo’s eatery and wonder where they all came from.
By Joshua P’ng, A North York Writer