one of my first lectures at an international conference, Robert
Goy, director of the Wisconsin Primate Center, invited me to come
work with him. Initially, I went on my own to Wisconsin, since it
was supposedly for one year only. This was in 1981. Within weeks,
however, Bob talked me into staying. Later Catherine, by then my
wife, joined me.
moving to the US, I had thought long and hard about which research
direction to take, and decided on reconciliation and social reciprocity
as promising topics. The first, I had discovered myself in Arnhem.
At the time no one worked on animal conflict resolution - nowadays
a major research area. It led to my second book, and the first one
written directly in English: Peacemaking
Among Primates (1989). The book earned the 1989 Los Angeles
Times Book Award as well as an unflattering
cartoon in the newspaper. Later, Filippo Aureli and I co-edited
a comprehensive volume on the same topic, Natural
Conflict Resolution (2000).
my assistant, Lesleigh Luttrell, I studied macaques at the Vilas
Park Zoo, in Madison, Wisconsin. We did so for ten years, and though
I greatly enjoyed it, something was missing. I set up two ape studies,
for which I had to go south. One was a study of bonobos at the San
Diego Zoo. Obviously, Our Inner Ape could never have been
written without this total immersion into bonobo behavior, which
produced so much data and so many photographs that I still regularly
draw on this material.
than a decade after my San Diego stay, celebrated photographer,
Frans Lanting, and I decided to produce a book on bonobos using
Frans' unique pictures from the wild. But we first had to deal with
the prudishness of American editors - rather baffling to two Dutchmen.
Bonobos were seen as too hot! So, we first published in the German
GEO Magazin, which put a copulating pair on its cover with
the title Frieden
durch Sex ("Peace through Sex"). Then we approached Scientific
American, which took our
story as well. Only after both trial balloons failed to cause
public outcry, did we bring out Bonobo:
The Forgotten Ape (1997).
second "expedition" from Wisconsin was to test reciprocity in the
food sharing among chimpanzees at the Yerkes
Primate Center in Atlanta. Upon my return to Wisconsin, I noticed
how much I had missed working with apes. In 1991, I joined the faculty
of Emory University
so that I could permanently work with the apes at the Yerkes' Field