Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Westoll Happy for Himself and Primate Pals as He Makes Charles Taylor Short List: Charles Taylor Prize Reveals Short List

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Westoll Happy for Himself and Primate Pals as He Makes Charles Taylor Short List: Charles Taylor Prize Reveals Short List

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Andrew Westoll was personally elated to be shortlisted for the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction Tuesday, but he was also happy for his primate pals including Binky, Chance and Pepper.

Westoll's book, "The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery," is based on the author's experiences at a southwestern Quebec facility that houses animals rescued from research laboratories.

"I was just utterly thrilled to be recognized, thrilled for myself and thrilled for the Fauna Sanctuary and the chimpanzees who live there," the Toronto-based author said in an interview.

"A lot is actually happening south of the border in terms of getting chimpanzees out of research and outlawing that kind of research, which is really exciting, so I'm really hoping my book can help contribute to that conversation as well."

His book was one of five to be shortlisted for the prize, along with Charlotte Gill's "Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe"; Wade Davis's "Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest"; J.J. Lee's "The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit"; and Madeline Sonik's "Afflictions and Departures: Essays."

It was about 2 1/2 years ago that Westoll, who had previously travelled to South America to study monkeys, moved to the Fauna Sanctuary for several months to observe the care of chimps that had lived most of their lives in captivity. Some had been subjected to experimental surgeries and injected with HIV and hepatitis. It didn't take long before Westoll developed a bond with them.

"What I was most amazed about when I first got there was that within days I was able to tell the chimpanzees apart, I could tell their voices apart after about a week of spending every day with them in the chimp house, and soon they just became like friends of mine," he said.

"I'd visit with them every day and I'd make their breakfast and their smoothies and it just became a whole ton of fun. …

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