At a time when extensive fieldwork was unheard-of, a good deal of knowledge about the great apes came from amateurswealthy women who kept them as pets or trainer-exhibitors of traveling menageries. Robert Yerkes, the father of primatology in America, corresponded with these private owners, sharing information about behavior and care. Hahn, herself a primate fancier, calls attention to the affinity between women and apes with engaging stories about nine remarkable women. There is Gertrude Linz, a dog breeder who collected gorillas; when they became unmanageable as adults, she sent Buddy to Ringling Brothers Circus and Massa to the Philadelphia Zoo where he lived to age 55. After Maria Hoyt sold Toto to Ringling Brothers, she followed the circus around the country and eventually settled in Sarasota. A Dutchwoman, Barbara Harrisson, had on-the-job training as foster mother to orphaned orangutans in Sarawak where she made careful notes on their development and returned them to the jungle. In Arizona, Jo Fritz and her husband breed ``retired'' chimpanzeesanimals that would have been destroyed; the new chimps are loaned for medical research, chiefly for blood studies. Hahn, author of On the Side of the Apes, gives us a delightful portrait of women and their very special animal friends. (April)
``Adopters of apes'' is the author's apt description for the nine women described in these short biographical essays. Beginning with a colorful portrait of Belle Benchley, the first director of the San Diego Zoo, Hahn, a New Yorker staff writer, draws primarily on memoirs and letters to describe the ways in which these women have nurtured chimpanzees and gorillas. Her subjects include psychologist Penny Patterson and the notorious Koko as well as more obscure trainers, collectors, and caretakers. Writing for lay readers, Hahn highlights curious and entertaining incidents; but at times she rambles and may lose all but the most avid ape lovers. Laurie Bartolini, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, Ill.