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My Adventures Among Wild Chimpanzees:

Lessons from Our Closest Relatives 


An exhilarating quest

into a remote African forest

to examine chimpanzees

and understand the roots

of human behavior.

He would follow families of wild chimpanzees from sunrise to sunset and learn the fundamental behavioral traits of these chimps as they raised their offspring.


One chimpanzee would captivate him. Her name was Fifi, and she displayed extraordinary patience and reassurance towards her infant, Freud. Upon returning home and becoming a doctor, Crocker found himself incorporating the lessons he learned from Fifi into his work as a father and physician. When he would witness his young patients rocketing around the exam room, he would picture Fifi’s patience and tacit approval of Freud’s uninhibited and joyful exploration.


Crocker shares how his time spent with our closest animal cousins has helped him better understand his patients with ADD, anxiety, and depression, and how primate traits hardwired into our own natural behavior help chimpanzees protect their community, raise their young, and survive. Finally, chronicling his return to Gombe thirty-six years later with his own son, he reflects on how his experience with the chimps has come full circle.


An illuminating book that will raise thought-provoking questions about the evolution of human behavior, the importance of patience, strong family bonds, and provide a greater understanding of what it means to be human. 24 pages of color photographs.

As a young student, John Crocker embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, spending eight months in the Gombe forest working with Jane Goodall.


In The Press


“Spending time with wild chimpanzees and watching their mothering skills has marked John Crocker for life and shaped his work as a family doctor. A delightful book full of love and respect for both animals and humans.”


Jane Goodall, New York Times bestselling author 

A truly extraordinary book. As I read it I was transported back to those wonderful days when I lived in Gombe. It is fascinating to read how John’s observations of chimpanzee children with their mothers and other family members helped him understand the problems of a human child.”


“John Crocker’s memoir traces a unique and fascinating arc from his early fieldwork with Jane Goodall, through a career in family medicine, and then back to revisit the people and chimpanzees at Gombe Stream. Written with genuine feeling and filled with intriguing insights.”


Thor Hanson, Author of The Triumph of Seeds

“Patience, compassion, presence, and gratitude are the values championed by Crocker, a family physician, in this eloquent and appreciative memoir of his time as a student of Jane Goodall at Gombe, Tanzania, in 1973. Crocker’s book is emotionally stirring without being overly sentimental, and is as much about human experience as it is about comparative ethology.”

Publisher’s Weekly

Frans de Waal, New York Times bestselling author 

He would follow families of wild chimpanzees from sunrise to sunset and learn the fundamental behavioral traits of these chimps as they raised their offspring.


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John Crocker has been practicing family medicine in Seattle for thirty-five years. He was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and attended Stanford University where he met Jane Goodall. He received his MD from Case Western School of Medicine in Cleveland. Dr. Crocker is a popular speaker at high schools, colleges and universities, and other educational venues on primate behavior and has written for the Huffington Post about lessons learned from our closest living relatives.

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