23 of the Best Primate Books You Need to Read

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Reading and primates are two of my top favorite things in the world. That’s why I created a list of books about primates.

They go from novels to educational books to books about conservation. And I even included some primate books that I think kids will love.

If you are a primate lover as I am you will definitely enjoy the books on this list.

Books About Lemurs


Patricia Chapple For the love of Lemurs

Title: For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar

By: Patricia Wright

In 1986, primatologist Patricia Chapple Wright was given a seemingly impossible task. Travel to the rainforests of Madagascar and find the greater bamboo lemur. A species that hadn’t been seen in the wild for thirty years.

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the aye-aye and I by greald durrell

Title: The Aye-aye and I 

By: Gerald Durrell

The 4th largest island in the world, Madagascar is home to woodlice the size of golf balls, moths the size of Regency fans and the Aye-Aye. A lemur held by local superstition to be an omen of death. When Gerald Durrell visited, the Aye-Aye and many other creatures were in danger of extinction. This is one of the best books about primates.

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Lemurs Living in the Wild Primates by claire throp

Title: Lemurs Living in the Wild Primates 

By: Claire Throp

Lemur explores the fascinating world of primates. The title includes information about classification, habitats, adaptations, food chains, behavior, and intelligence. Learn about the threats these creatures face and how they can help protect them and their habitats.

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Books About Primates


Primate Books A Prrimates Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky

Title: A Primate’s Memoir

By: Robert M. Sapols

An exhilarating account of Sapolsky’s twenty-one-year study of a troop of rambunctious baboons in Kenya. A Primate’s Memoir interweaves serious scientific observations with wry commentary. It is all about the challenges and pleasures of living in the wilds of the Serengeti—for man and beast alike.

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Primate Books The Primate Family TreeTitle: The Primate Family Tree

By: Ian Redmond

This is a comprehensive resource on the subject of our animal relatives: apes, monkeys, and lemurs. Readers will learn an abundance of facts. They will review recent research and conservation efforts and discover the characteristics shared by all primates. This is one of the best primate books I have read.

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Primate Tourism: A Tool for Conservation? Reprint Edition

Title: Primate Tourism: A Tool for Conservation? Reprint Edition

By: Anne Russon

Bringing together interdisciplinary expertise in wildlife/nature tourism and primatology, experts present and discuss their accumulated experience from individual primate sites open to tourists, formal studies of primate-focused tourism, and trends in nature and wildlife tourism.

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Books About Orangutans

reflections of eden by birute m. f. galdikas

Title: Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo

By: Birute M. F. Galdikas

At the age of twenty-five, Birute Galdikas left the placid world of American academia for the remote jungles of Indonesian Borneo. Her story is a rare combination of personal epiphany, crucial scientific discoveries, and international impact – a life of a human and the environmental challenges.

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Orangutans Wizards of the Rain Forest by anne russon

Title: Orangutans: Wizards of the Rain Forest

By: Anne Russon

Based on the 10 years of research that the author has undertaken studying orangutan behavior. The only great apes found in Asia, elusive, solitary, living in nearly inaccessible tropical rain forests. and near extinction. One of the most insightful primate books I have read.

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Orangutans: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation

Title: Orangutans: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation

By: Junaidi Payne

With lively text and more than 150 striking color photographs. This look at orangutan life examines topics ranging from habitat and behavior to the complex intricacies of orangutan society.

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Title: Orangutan (A Day in the Life: Rain Forest Animals)
By: Anita Ganeri

Orangutans may not be tall, but their arm span can reach up to seven feet! Learn how this helps them in their daily life in the rain forest as they live and move among the trees. This title also discusses the orangutan’s hunting, foraging, eating, and sleeping habits.

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Books by Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous primatologist


Title: My Life with the Chimpanzees

The celebrated naturalist recounts her childhood wish to work with animals and her excursions into the wilds of Africa. This is where she performed history-making studies on species like the leopards, lions, and, especially, chimpanzees there.

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Title: Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey

In this biography, she candidly shares her life. Above all she introduces the Gombe chimpanzees she introduced to the world nearly forty years ago. And she gives us convincing reasons why we can and must open ourselves to the saints within each of us.

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In the Shadow of Man by jane goodall

Title: In the Shadow of Man

In her classic, In the Shadow of Man, Jane Goodall wrote of her first 10 years at Gombe. In Through a Window, she continues the story, painting a more complete and vivid portrait of our closest relatives.

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Title: Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe

In her classic, In the Shadow of Man, Jane Goodall wrote of her first 10 years at Gombe. In Through a Window, she continues the story, painting a more complete and vivid portrait of our closest relatives.

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Books by Frans de Waal


Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves

Title: Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves

Mama’s Last Hug opens with the dramatic farewell between Mama, a dying 59-year-old chimpanzee matriarch, and biologist Jan Van Hooff. This heartfelt final meeting of two longtime friends, widely shared as a video, offers a window into how deep and instantly recognizable these bonds can be.

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Primate Books Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes

Title: Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes

Watch the chimpanzees of Arnhem behave in ways we recognize from Machiavelli (and from the nightly news). In addition de Waal reminds us again that the roots of politics are older than humanity.

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Title: Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

In this provocative book, the author argues that modern-day evolutionary biology takes far too dim a view of the natural world. He emphasizing our “selfish” genes. Science has thus exacerbated our reciprocal habits of blaming nature when we act badly and labeling the good things we do as “humane”.

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Our Inner Ape by frans de waal

Title: Our Inner Ape

In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal, presents the provocative idea that our noblest qualities—generosity, kindness, altruism—are as much a part of our nature as are our baser instincts. After all, we share them with another primate: the lesser-known bonobo.

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Books About Monkeys and Apes for Children

Primate Books The Lemur's Tale by Ophelia Redpath

Title: The Lemur’s Tale

By: Ophelia Redpath

A ring-tailed lemur is stowed away on a boat from Madagascar. He finds his way into the home of an eccentric but dysfunctional family.

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Title: Undaunted: The Wild Life of Biruté Mary Galdikas and Her Fearless Quest to Save Orangutans
By: Anita Silvey

Follow her story as she carries out an epic search and struggles to survive. All while studying the world’s most endangered great ape.

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Title: The Orangutan Rescue Gang

By: Joyce Major

From an award-winning author, Joyce Major comes this utterly gripping tale. The books tells the story about a wildlife rescue gang embarking on a quest to rescue a stolen baby orangutan.

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Title: Primates The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas

By: Jum Ottaviani

Jim Ottaviani offers an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. And it covers the highlights of their respective careers in an entertaining way. If you love knowing about primatologists and their journeys, this is one of the best primate books to read.

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Primate Books I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer

Title: I Am Jane Goodall: Ordinary People Change the World Series

By: Brad Meltzer

We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times best-selling biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer. Learn all about Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee scientist.

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Have you read any of these primate books? I would love to know if you have any recommendations of your own.

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