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*Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes* by Pamela S. Turner - young readers book review

Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes
by Pamela S. Turner
ages 9-12 48 pages Houghton Mifflin May 2005 Hardcover    

Science and nature writer Pamela S. Turner takes us on a fascinating and often tragic journey into the world of Great Apes, the endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda, in Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes. This inside look at the lives of both the beautiful and amazing gorillas and the rare human souls dedicated to saving them is engaging and educational for readers of all ages.

The book focuses on the work of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, a group of scientists working together to save the dwindling mountain gorilla populations in Africa. These “gorilla doctors” literally live with the great apes on a daily basis, studying their behavior and the effects, usually negative, of their exposure to human beings.

Accompanied by stunning and often up-close and personal color and black-and-white photos of the gorillas and the scientists at work, Gorilla Doctors presents the history of the great apes and their demise, and the attempts of courageous people like Dian Fossey and those who followed in her footsteps, who devote their lives to helping these awesome animals survive.

We meet many of the scientists involved as well as the gorillas themselves, and by the end of the book we feel as though we personally know and care about all of them. The book takes us along as the animals are observed, studied, interacted with, and often tended to for emergencies, injuries and diseases. There are photos showing the scientists at work on their labs as they try to understand primate diseases and other negative effects on their population – and, of course, we get a crash course in the evils of poaching, where often entire gorilla families are brutally slaughtered just to get hold of an infant gorilla. Baby gorillas are a hot commodity, and even in the wilds of nature, money talks.

The book offers some resources for getting involved in the quest to save these great apes, and after reading this powerful book and really seeing just how magnificent these animals are, there is no doubt readers will want to know what they can do to help.

The bond that forms between the scientists of the Project and their great ape friends is heartwarming and hopeful. Even as humans encroach on the land and the lives of these intelligent and inspiring animals, it is good to know there are people dedicated to help those that remain in the wild survive, and even thrive.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Marie D. Jones/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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