Julius the Chimpanzee is the most famous animal in Norway. He was born on Boxing Day 1979, in Kristiansand Zoo in southern Norway. Six weeks old he was rejected by his mother and had to live with a human family for one year. A camera crew followed him during this period and the following TV program made him into a celebrity in Norway.
The humans tried to raise him as a regular chimp and in due course he was returned to his own tribe. But he was frequently brought back to the humans and for a long while he was homeless in both worlds. Julius escaped several times from the chimp island in the Zoo. He became dangerous and vicious, attacking humans, which eventually forced them to isolate him in a cage. Only after twenty-five turbulent years his carers managed to make him the leader of the tribe in 2005. Today, Julius lives as a content alpha chimpanzee and father of two within a community of nine chimpanzees. This book tells the remarkable medical history about this unique chimpanzee’s life.
Using international research on chimpanzees, the author attempts to find out and understand what goes on in the head of chimpanzees like Julius. The book also describes the life of the wild chimpanzees living in the African jungle and expands on research findings from studies on the behaviour of chimpanzees in zoos. Chimps share 98.6 percent of genetic material with humans. The Chimpanzees are intelligent and social animals, they can learn sign language, they can collaborate and plan the future, they can be empathetic and self-sacrificing, and at the same time brutal and completely merciless.
The story of Julius is thus also a story about status and power within a chimpanzee troop, the struggle for food and safety, about longing for love and sex, loneliness, sorrow and death. Julius’ life is unusually well- documented. Using everything from media coverage in newspapers and weekly magazines, private photos and memory books, veterinary reports and the journals of the animal caretaker has made it possible to write about his life.
The book is a biography for adult readers, with the same methodology and documentation requirements expected from a modern biography, but with this tiny exception from the modern standard biography: that the subject of the biography is not and never has been human – only just. 228 pages. Illustrated throughout with colour photos.
The reviews have all been positive: The daily VG wrote: “It’s truly possible – to write a good, gripping and insightful biography about a chimpanzee. “ Five on the dice.
“”Alternately joyous and heartbreaking, Almost Human is more than just a biography of a confused chimpanzee. It is also a fascinating, well-researched book that provides excellent information about wild and zoo chimpanzees, the history of trafficking live chimpanzee infants out of Africa, and the dramatic change in the way animals have been perceived and treated in zoos over the past century.” Jane Goodall
Translation rights sold: Canada (World English Rights), Dutch and Chinese rights.
Alfred FidjestølAlfred Fidjestøl (b. 1973) has published several critically acclaimed biographies and history books about humans and cultural institutions. In 2014, Fidjestøl became the first non-fiction author ever to receive Gyldendal’s Hunger Award. He has previously been nominated for the Brage Award and The Critics Award. This is his first chimpanzee biography.