Friday, July 30, 2010

Going Back to Cali, Part 2

Continued from a previous post...

The next leg of our journey took us back to Highway 96, past Weitchepec, and over Bald Hills Road to the coast.  (The same route that Roger and Bob took to drive their film out of the wilds of Bluff Creek.) Quite a bit more of this dusty road is now paved than it was when I drove it last year.  Not enough though, judging by the the quarter inch of fine dust that coated my vehicle inside and out...

A view from Bald Hills Road.


When we reached the other side of Bald Hills, we met up with Bart Cutino and Rob Day in Orick, CA.  After a quick bite, we developed a plan that took us outside of Crescent City, CA where we were to meet up with several other bigfooters that would be arriving the next day.  We drove up Rowdy Creek Road and camped on a saddle on the edge of the burn left over from the devastating Biscuit Fire from a few years back.

That night was still and warm, and our calls echoed off of distant unseen ridges.  Though no bigfoot activity was noted that night, it was a lovely evening spent under a ridiculously starry sky with good friends.  We fell asleep sometime after 4 am, and the scorching Sun rudely woke us a few short hours later.

That day we were scheduled to meet up with a crew of other bigfooters in Crescent City around 3 pm.  That gave Will and I a few hours to try some surf perch fishing on the beaches south of the city.  A couple hours of standing in the waves yielded no fish, but was refreshing for my soul.  The ocean is one of the few things I dearly miss since moving to Portland a few years ago, and I only rarely make the drive to the coast.

At 3 pm, we met up with the rest of our crew.  Kathy and Bob Strain (of the AIBR) were joined by Jerry Riedel, Brian Brown (of the Bigfoot Information Project), Monica Frank Rawlings, her son Riley, Chris Buntenbah, and Tom Yamarone.  A motley crue, to say the least, but one brimming with knowledge and experience.

Speaking of a motley crue...  Bob Strain,
Cliff Barackman, Tom Yamarone, and Bart Cutino.


After our rounds of hello's and greetings, we headed to the hills.  Our destination would eventually be determined by scouting the dusty roads adjacent to the Smith River near the Oregon border.  We found an out-of-the-way base camp near a quiet stream and settled in.

The next day or two was passed hanging with friends in the daytime, taking refreshing dips in the river, and doing the standard bigfooting stuff at night.  A significant highlight was stumbling on a perfectly good Slayer shirt at a swimming hole.  Tyler Bounds claimed this prize, and I'm sure he'll wear it proudly at the show he's attending in the fall.

Tyler with his prize.


On Monday I traded my passenger (Will) for Tyler Bounds, and he and I would spend the next three nights rolling up the Oregon Coast, and bigfooting in the lush Coast Range on our way.  But currently, my time is short, so that's the subject for another installment of this blog.  Check back in a couple days for that tale.

(Now, I have to pack to head to the woods.  Pardon me...)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Goin' Back to Cali, Part 1

When the weather gets hot, I start getting the urge to cool down by taking a dip in Bluff Creek at the Patterson/Gimlin filmsite.  No other body of water seems to cool down my fiery soul in the same way.  So, when an invitation arose to rendezvous with a herd of bigfooters in Northern California, I jumped at the chance.

On Wednesday, July 14 Matt Pruitt and Tyler Bounds arrived on the doorstep of my humble little shack.  They had driven down from Seattle, WA and were to spend the night to cut a few hours of driving off of their journey to Northern CA.  We spent that evening pouring casts, talking 'squatch, and enjoying some beverages before retiring for the night.

The pre-pour party.


The next day, my house guests got a head start on the drive while I prepared for the trip.  Will Robinson, my frequent field partner and friend of the 'squatch was to ride with me after he got off of work, so I had several hours to get my stuff together.

Will and I got on the road in the middle of the afternoon and headed south.  Our drive would take us through Grants Pass, into Cave Junction and O'Brian, then across the Siskiyou Mountains into Happy Camp, CA.  We would then head west on Highway 96, the "Bigfoot Scenic Byway," to the Bluff Creek area and meet up with Matt, Kelly, and Tyler at "the Water Spot."  The Water Spot is the location of some of my most intense sasquatch encounters, and I keep the location confidential.

After darkness fell, we took a walk to the nearby paved road where we could lie down and be quiet (gravel roads are so noisy!).  Letting loose with a couple calls, we were soon greeted with heavy footfalls from the ravine next to the road.  Whatever it was approached us, stopped, then walked parallel to the road for a short ways before walking down into the ravine.  I was both busy with listening, as well as poking my thermal imager above the brush trying to get a shot of whatever it was.  Of the two recorders that were running, neither picked up the crunching sounds that we heard in the brush.  No images were obtained either, but it was quite exciting to have an obviously large animal approach to within forty feet.  A bit unnerving, too.

The morning came too early as the sun broke the horizon.  The weather was too hot to sleep in very long, so we got up and broke camp.  Our next stop was to be the Patterson/Gimlin Filmsite, and I was to be the tour guide for the group, being the only one who had been there before.

After taking the "H-spur" road down to the bat boxes, we headed upstream past the bend in the creek to the PG Site.  I seem to end up here every summer, so it's always interesting to see how much the creek bed changes from year to year.  This year was no exception.  Log jams blocked the creek where I walked the previous year, and new signs of the winter's erosion were evident wherever I looked.

The cool clear waters of Bluff Creek.


After arriving at the PG site, we all took the obligatory baptismal dip in the river at the site.  The water was cold, but well worth the submersion on this hot day.  We soon started exploring the higher ground where Patty herself walked many years ago.  Making our way to the back of the once-open sandbar, we attempted to find trees that were clearly over forty years old and snapped a few pictures.  "Those trees saw Patty walk," was the catch phrase that kept going through my mind.

Approximately where Patty walked.


Those trees saw it happen.


Cliff Barackman and friends posing at the PG Site.

The time grew late very quickly, and we soon had to leave this Mecca of Bigfooting.  We had places to go and people to see.  Orick, CA and Bart Cutino, to be specific.  But that's the subject of another installment of this blog.  Check back in a couple days for the next leg of my journey.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gordon Creek Rock Throwing

Below is a comment that was submitted to another of my blog posts recently.  I was leaving town the same day I read the comment, so I could not investigate this myself.  

Gordon Creek: a place to remain concealed.



This is the fourth or fifth incident that has been reported to me in the last two years from within a few miles of this location.  It seems that at least one sasquatch uses Gordon Creek as a route of travel to and from the Sandy River.  The mouth of Gordon Creek is a large sand bar on which tracks could be left and found several days afterwards.  There's only one of me, so if you live near this area please be my eyes and ears on the ground in this region.  Let me know what you find by contacting me here.  

Heres' the comment:


I am a resident that lives in Corbett Oregon. Yesterday the 14th of July around 5:00 pm my brother and I went fishing along the Sandy River down the road from our house. We fished off Gordon Creek road just where the creek flows into the Sandy, it's across from Oxbow Park. 


When we first arrived there were about 30 or so summer time swimmers hanging around the river. By 7:00 pm everyone had cleared out. Tired from walking the river we were ready to head in ourselves, but wanted to try one more spot close to where we parked the truck. If you know the area you will know the spot I'm talking about. The middle of the river has a huge fallen tree half on the sand bar (island) the other half submerged in the river. We decided to fish that spot at about 7:15pm when immediately huge stones were being toss into the river in our direction not all at once, but every 3 - 5 minutes. 


Normally I would think it was kids being rambunctious, however these stones were large, 10 lbs or larger in some cases, and they were thrown from the shadow of the woods that had to be at least 60 feet away from the river bank. The stones continued to be tossed until we walked away from the center island area. It continued for about 20 minutes until we walked the opposite side of the river along Gordon Creek road. 


I am about 220 lbs and very strong. I can’t throw big rocks like that from such a distance and stay hidden way back in the woods. My brother thinks maybe kids had a catapult or the rocks were not as big as we thought, but when you hear a plunk instead of a splash that tells you they were not little river rocks. 


The area in question is directly across that fallen tree on the oxbow side of the river. A good point of reference is you will see an old wood fence along the river that has been broke for years it is a small section of fence about ten feet long at best. From that fence about 100 to 200 yards left of that is where the activity took place. I guess I must think It's possibly more than kids if I took all this time to write this. 

I hope it helps!


To whoever was kind enough to report this to me,


Thank you, and yes this certainly helps.  While I was unable to investigate your report personally due to out of town commitments, data like this helps determine patterns that could be useful later.  The BFRO report linked above occurred at the end of July as well, so already a pattern is emerging.  Other reports from this area include the throwing of heavy rocks.  Your data is important, so thank you for letting me know about it!  Keep your eyes and ears peeled, and let me know if you run into anything else of interest!  


-Cliff



Friday, July 23, 2010

Portland's "Best Believer!"

Having just walked in the door from an 8-day bigfooting trip (details coming soon, so check back in a couple days), I was thrilled to find that I am included in the Willamette Week's "Best of Portland 2010" list of what's cool in the coolest place I can imagine living.  I was bestowed the title of "Best Believer," which was a little surprising because I did mention to the journalist who interviewed me that it's not a matter of belief, but a matter of evidence.  I guess that didn't make the article, but nonetheless, I'm super excited about the tip of the hat for the 'squatch!



Here's the article:
Best Believer

Many Portlanders like to spend their weekends doing something recreational in the outdoors—fishing, for instance. Cliff Barackman prefers to spend his on a less conventional pastime: Bigfooting.

Bigfooting, Barackman says, is actually a lot like fishing: It requires a lot of baiting and waiting, and one must be in the right place with the right tools. Barackman, though, isn’t searching for something simple like steelhead. No, he is after much more elusive prey—the North American Bigfoot.

Barackman isn’t your average Bigfoot believer. Although he admits to being a bit eccentric, the 39-year-old schoolteacher describes himself as “intelligent and well-rounded.” He isn’t zany or crazy. He isn’t a hack like the two Georgia men who perpetuated a worldwide hoax when they tried to fabricate a Bigfoot corpse back in 2008. No, Barackman relies only on the facts—facts he says leave no doubt that Sasquatches are real.

For the past 16 years Barackman, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, has spent much of his free time collecting evidence from the field and interviewing Bigfoot witnesses. His research can be found on his website, NorthAmericanBigfoot.com, where he stockpiles photos of footprint casts, possible audio recordings and an interview with Jane Goodall saying she’s sure an undiscovered species like Bigfoot exists. He also writes a Bigfoot blog that he updates twice a week.

Although Barackman has not yet seen a Sasquatch, he is positive that he will run into one someday—and hopefully he can record the evidence, even if it means risking his life. It wouldn’t, he muses, be such a bad way to go: “If a ’squatch picked me up with one hand and threw me 80 feet—yeah, that’s a great way to go,” he said. “When you find my corpse, just make sure you uncurl my hands so you can get the hair samples out of it.” -PETER GRIFFIN.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sasquotes - A New Feature

Reading quotes has always been fun for me.  It might be my attention span, but I love short, condensed pearls of wisdom or humor.  Bigfooting abounds with such pearls.  Some make me laugh, others make me think more deeply about a topic.  Occasionally, some make me want to vomit.  As long as it affects me on some level, I don't mind.  

I thought I'd start to toss you some memorable quotes said by personalities in the bigfooting world.  The first such installment is one of the most widely circulated quotes in Bigfootland.  It is true on so many levels, and in so many unrelated fields, that it deserves its prominent place as first in this series.  

Enjoy this entry, and this new feature as you see it occasionally resurface over the coming months.


"Without the facts, your opinion is of no value." 
- Rene Dahinden

I love Mr. Dahinden's knowing smirk.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vanessa Woods

Intelligent.  Primatologist.  Beautiful.  The accent.  All that, and she wrote an article pointing out that the Jacob's Creature does not seem to have the limb proportions of a bear (Vanessa Woods (2008). BIGFOOT: SCIENCE FICTION OR SCIENCE FACT. Scientriffic. ISSN 1442-2212.).  Everything about her makes my heart melt.

Vanessa Woods and a friend.


As if the above items weren't enough to keep me permanently enthralled, she has even done a post or two mentioning bigfoots on her own blog.  Look at this link, or perhaps this one.

She has also recently published a book entitled Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo.

Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo

By the way, I know she's married.  There's nothing wrong with having a boyish crush, is there?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mike Greene in the News

Mike Greene was recently featured in an online news story from WCNC.com in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Mike, just in case you don't remember, obtained thermal video of a sasquatch in April of 2009.  The footage is commonly called the "Squeaky Footage" because of the toys that Mike left out for the bigfoot over the previous two years of coaxing it into camp.  


When you watch the video below, keep your eye out for an appearance by yours truly.  I was pretty surprised when I saw myself in a picture from an expedition, making me laugh out loud.  The photograph was from a trip to the Olympic Peninsula with Mike and others back in the spring of 2008.


Hunting for Bigfoot: Expert stakes out forest






by MICHELLE BOUDIN / NewsChannel 36 

Posted on July 13, 2010 at 11:00 PM
Updated today at 6:57 PM
UWHARRIE NATIONAL FOREST, N.C. -- Bigfoot on video in the North Carolina mountains?
A Salisbury man says it's true, and he's been chasing the controversial creature for more than 20 years.
Mike Greene is nationally recognized as an expert Bigfoot investigator, so we went along with him one night in search of Bigfoot.
It is dark, so dark you can see the stars and hear the crickets chanting all around.
"It's the anticipation of boogeymen in the darkness, people are scared of the dark," said Greene.
We are miles from anything, a little more than an hour from Charlotte at a secret location in the Uwharrie National Forest.
"Every time it's, 'This could be the night,'" Greene says into the darkness.
We are here, hunting Bigfoot.
"It's the proverbial needle in the haystack. It really is," says Greene."My theory is, do it enough and eventually our paths are going to cross and that's finally what happened."
Greene says he's seen Sasquatch a handful of times in the 20 years he's been on the hunt.
"Right over my head I heard two deep, I call them Darth Vader breaths," says Green. "That got my attention in a hurry."
Greene says he even caught the creature on video in this same forest once.
"There it was, eight or nine feet tall, just like in the movies, walking sideways to me, boom, boom, boom."
The 68-year-old is now widely known and recognized in Bigfoot circles and often helps investigate claims about sightings. He says he knows some people think he's crazy, but he isn't.
Greene is a retired state fraud investigator. He has his master's degree in behavioral psychology and admits chasing Bigfoot is a little off the beaten path.
"It is the most ludicrous hobby I can possibly think of," he said.
But he insists he's legitimate.
"I'm not the village idiot here and I'm an extremely skeptical person by nature, and as I said, until I actually saw one myself -- no matter what all these other people told me -- I didn't believe it for sure," he explains. "But it's true and it's hard to believe, but it's true."
He says it was years and hundreds of trips across the U.S. and Canada before his first sighting. Over time, he has perfected his hunting technique.
He estimates he's spent $75,000 on high-tech equipment like night vision goggles, cameras and even infrared illuminators.
He brought all of it as we headed into the forest and set up what looks like an abandoned camp.
"The idea is to set up a campsite with some bait on it and then have a thermal recording from a distance and then leave, go away."
He says the creatures sometimes travel as a family.
"The women, you can tell they're women, they have great big breasts and they're big and hairy and they're usually dark brown or black," he says.
He knows that even with the brief video of what he says is a Bigfoot in the Uwharrie forest, there are a lot of doubters.
"Most people don't take it particularly seriously, and I don't blame them."
So his quest continues. He says he's not looking to go down in history books as the man who proved that Bigfoot exists. He would like to be the person who helps people realize Bigfoot is real but doubts it will happen.


For more on Mike Greene and his travels, you can check out his website.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Knock Knock, Who's There? Part 2

[Continued from my previous post]

A deer captured Saturday night on a trail camera.


The knock came from the thick woods to Will's north.  It seemed to be responding to either the sound of the car door shutting, or to the dome light being turned off.  Either way, the sasquatch was monitoring Will's campsite.  I thought it best to not walk up the road quite yet in case my presence would shut down the situation.  Being patient, I decided to sit in the dark and listen a while longer.

About twenty or thirty minutes later, another knock came from Will's north.  This time, it was a double knock.  Multiple knocks always give me pause.  Often (but not always), multiple knocks occur in quantities that match the number of people present.  This could be just a coincidence considering I usually go bigfooting either alone or in pairs, and I usually hear one or two knocks.  Still, in the light of recent primate research, this sort of coincidence deserves some thought.  They might be counting us and communicating our numbers to other bigfoots nearby.

After this double knock, Will suggested that I join him.  I readied my mobile thermal imager and took the long dark walk to Will's camp.  I moved at a snail's pace both to thoroughly scan my surroundings in hopes of capturing a sasquatch on video, as well as to not crash Will's party, so to speak.  After a ten minute stroll, I came upon Will sitting on his tailgate scanning the woods with his thermal imager.

We engaged in a whispered conversation detailing our experiences and assumptions of the previous knocking events.  Directions from where the sounds came from were indicated without pointing into the woods (it is my opinion based on an experience I had several years ago that sasquatches don't like to be pointed at).  Before too long, another loud and clear knock rang from the dark woods to the north.  Was this a signal that another human (me) had joined the first?  Was there another sasquatch listening nearby to interpret these signals, whatever they might mean?

Giddy like school children, we strained our ears to hear whatever the forest might tell us about the ape man (or is it man ape?) we suspected was nearby.  For quite a while, the forest gave us nothing to go on besides the usual clicks and clacks of the night.  Eventually, we heard the most dubious knock of the night which seemed to come from quite a ways to the west of our location.  I cannot say with much certainty that this was a knock, but it was significantly louder than the other snaps and noises the forest makes.  It was just too distant to tell.

After another long silence, I decided to head back to my camp.  The walk was long and slow as I scanned the meadows and marshes that dotted the roadside.  I returned to my truck and settled down to listen once more.  Shortly thereafter, Will radioed me to tell of another loud, clear knock this time coming from his south.  It seemed that he had been flanked without knowing it.  This knock was to be the last of the night.

Recordings of two of the knocks have been posted on my website.  You can hear them by clicking here.  As usual, the recordings do not do the sounds justice.  You just had to have been there...

Morning brought another onslaught of mosquitoes and warm temperatures.  We walked through the woods and on the roads looking for signs of our nocturnal visitors from the night before.  Finding nothing, we debated about what to do.

The marsh near my camp in the morning sun.


By staying one more night, we would run the risk of shutting down any activity.  However, the sasquatches might be a little ticked off that we were there again and come down on us a little heavier than they had before.  We eventually decided to stay one more night instead of moving locations.

The day passed at a leisurely pace since we had nothing in particular to do.  While on a drive, Will saw a large black bear run across the road ahead of his vehicle a few miles from camp.  Later in the afternoon, Will's brother joined us for the night in his own vehicle.

Unfortunately, no bigfoot activity was noted that night.  In a way, this was fortuitous because I had a "control group" sort of night against which I could gauge the knocks from the previous evening.  If there had been several loud knocks that night as well, it could have been possible that these sounds just happen there for some other reason.

It had been a great weekend.  Hearing the unsolicited howl on Thursday night was a real treat.  Getting six knocks the following night was even cooler, but mostly because the sasquatches were much closer.  I can't wait to get out in the woods again.  I won't have to wait very long, either.  More on that soon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knock Knock, Who's There? Part 1

I had been trying to get out of town for most of the week, but obligations have a way of seeping into my life.  Thursday was the day that finally brought me back into the wilds of the Oregon Cascades.  It was good to be back.  I would meet my frequent bigfooting partner and friend of the 'squatch, Will Robinson, the following day, but for Thursday night I was on my own.

My first destination would be Timothy Lake.  I had always avoided Timothy Lake because of the high human traffic that it draws.  People from all over camp in developed campsites there, including partying kids from the nearby towns of Estacada and Sandy.  Probably because of the number of people in the area, there are a good number of sightings from Timothy, which would be expected.  I would not be looking at the campgrounds around the lake itself (though I think that if these were worked correctly, they could be good bigfooting spots), but rather the swamps along the borders of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Timothy Lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest.


I spent a couple hours driving the area, but I kept running into "No Trespassing" signs indicating the borders of the reservation.  Being highly respectful of Native Americans, I chose to obey the signs and keep off of their lands.  Native Americans have been so screwed by the dominant culture, it seems to be the very least I could do.  Still, I would need to make another plan...  Looking at other options, I chose to camp at nearby Dinger Lake.

It took considerable time to find the correct road that would lead me to the lake due to the many dead ends I encountered on the way. I snaked through the maze of logging roads, eventually finding a campsite only 100 yards from the waterline.  The mosquitoes were insane with blood-lust, and Cliff was on the menu.

A muddy road begged me to inspect it closely for footprints, so I obliged.  Raccoons, deer, squirrels, and birds had all stepped through the road, but no bigfoots.  Pushing further, I took a detour down a narrow animal trail that hugged the shoreline and soon found myself on the far side of the lake before heading back to camp before dark.

Squirrel tracks in the mud.


Shortly before 10:30, I was putting some gear into my vehicle when an unsolicited vocalization chimed from the north.  It was a medium-pitched howl, approximately two or three seconds long, that never repeated itself.  The sound was too faint to be picked up by my recorder.  I wish I could share it with you and see what you thought...  Was it a sasquatch?  Maybe.  Could it have been an owl?  Maybe, but I don't think so. All I can say is that I think it might have been what I was looking for.  Slightly fired up, I spent the next several hours listening to the drone of insects and night sounds without hearing anything else that piqued my bigfooty interest.  Still, one night and one possible bigfoot sound.  Not bad.

I was to meet Will the next day at a location near the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.  The rendezvous point was a wetland meadow that has a history of knocking events, but no vocalizations.  We wanted to see if we went knocking, would somebody be home?

An arm of the shallow meadow/lake near our camps.


Arriving several hours earlier than our meeting time, I took the opportunity to walk around the small lake that had formed from the unusually heavy spring rains and snow.  My goal was to find out what kind of animals were using this area, as well as keeping my eye out for sasquatch footprints.

Deer seemed to be abundant.  I found faint bear prints at the far side of the marsh, along with very clear prints from some sort of heron.  Pollywogs infested the shallows, basking in the 80+ degree water.  There were tiny toads in the grass clumps near the water.  Food was abundant.

At one point, I encountered likely human prints coming down through a clear cut to the lake.  A dog accompanied the person.  Faint boot prints showed in the dry ground, yet barefoot prints were still visible in the mud near the water's edge.  I photographed them for your viewing pleasure, but also to again illustrate that footprint photographs rarely look very good at all.  In person, the toes could be clearly seen and extend to the tip of my tape measure, though it looks like they start somewhere around the two inch mark.  Remember this the next time you see a photograph of a really good sasquatch footprint:  if it looks good in a photo, it must have been magnificent in person.

Human prints near the water's edge.


The pond was deep enough to allow a quick dip before I wandered through the woods back to my camp.  Only the top two or three feet of the pond was warm at all, so the swim was refreshing in the hot sun.  Cooled off, though a little mucky, I returned to my vehicle.  A chair, a beer, and my guitar were my only companions for several hours before Will showed up.

Will and I chose to camp about 200 yards apart.  This was partly to camp in the only two campsites in the immediate area, assuring that we would be the only campers there that night (Bigfooting when others are near can be rude).  Another reason we wanted to do this was to do knocks and calls back and forth from different locations, which seems to be particularly enticing to sasquatches.

Nearby my camp and in direct line of site from my vehicle, we placed a "gift pile" of apples and onions.  A thermal imager would be trained on the location and left running all night.

A short while after midnight, I heard the sound of a distant car door shutting.  I radioed to Will to verify that he just shut his car door.  He did in fact do so, so I let my adrenaline return to normal levels.  A little while later, I heard the door shut again, and then one more time a few moments later.  I didn't think much of it until Will radioed to me asking, "Did you hear that?!"

"I heard your car door slam shut," I replied.

"Yeah, but after that.  Did you hear the knock?"

Apparently, Will turned off the light in his truck's cab and shut the door.  A few moments later, a loud, clear thump resonated from the woods to his north.  What I thought was a second door slam was actually a loud knock from the forest.

Somebody was home.

More from my most recent adventure, including audio recordings, in my next blog entry.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ape Women

For decades, women have been blazing trails in primatology. Personally knowing many women dedicated to the bigfoot hypothesis, it will be interesting to see who puts their mark on this most interesting subject.

The following article was pulled off of
www.mentalfloss.com. The original article can be found by clicking this link.

Ape Women: 10 Dedicated Primate Researchers
by Miss Cellania - July 6, 2010 - 10:29 AM

Women are doing amazing work in primatology, the study of monkeys, apes, prosimians, and even humans. Although many are working on furthering our understanding of our closest relatives, we will take a look at only the most prominent.


1. Vanessa Woods



Vanessa Woods is a native of Australia, a research scientist at Duke University, a writer for The Discovery Channel, and an advocate for bonobos, apes that closely resemble chimpanzees. Read about Woods research in the Congo at Bonobo Handshake and follow her blog at Psychology Today.

2. Francine Patterson


Francine “Penny” Patterson began an experiment as a graduate student in 1972. Almost 40 years later, the experiment is still going! Patterson received permission from the San Francisco Zoo to work with aone-year-old gorilla on language acquisition. So Patterson began training little Koko to use American Sign Language. The gorilla began using words within a couple of weeks, and now has a vocabulary of over a thousands words in “Gorilla Sign Language”, a slightly modified form of American Sign Language. Work with Koko led Patterson to found The Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the lowland gorilla.


3. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh



Sue Savage-Rumbaugh spent 30 years as a language researcher at the University of Georgia, during which time she taught a bonobo named Kanzi to communicate through the use of pictograms. Savage-Rumbaugh is now doing language research at The Great Ape Trust, a research center in Des Moines, Iowa. The trust is home to six bonobos and six orangutans.

4. Claudine Andre


Claudine Andre is a Belgian researcher who grew up in the Congo. She volunteered at the Kinshasa Zoo and became enamored with bonobos. In 1994 she founded Lola Ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for orphaned bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 60 bonobos sheltered there were mostly confiscated from poachers. Andre also founded Friends of Bonobos to support the sanctuary and is trying to find ways to return orphaned apes to the wild.

5. Sarah Hrdy


Sarah B. Hrdy is an anthrolpologist with the University of California atDavis. Her research into human evolution led her to study primates, starting with the behavior of Hamuman Langurs in India. Since then, Hrdy uses other primates as well to develop theories that contribute to the investigation of human sociobiology and evolution. Despite a shortage of vowels, she has written a half-dozen books on the subject of motherhood in human and other primates.
6. Sally Boysen


Sally Boysen is a psychology professor at Ohio State University. She studies cognitive development in great apes, particularly the mathematical abilities of chimpanzees. She began teaching chimpazees to count in 1984. She later worked on teach several chimps to read, including one named Sheeba, who lived with Boysen for almost all her life.

7. Mireya Mayor



Mireya Mayor is an anthropologist who studies primates and other wildlife in Africa. In 2000, she discovered the world’s smallest primate, the Pygmy Mouse Lemur, a find that led to the establishment ofa national park in Madagascar to conserve the tiny animal. A former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, Mayor received her PhD from Stony Brook University in 2008. She is a correspondent for National Geographic Ultimate Explorer.

8. BirutÄ— Galdikas



BirutÄ— Galdikas has dedicated her life to orangutans; their study, protection, and conservation. She was born in Germany to Lithuanian parents and grew up in Toronto. Galdikas received her PhD in anthropology at UCLA. She launched her dream of studying orangs in Borneo with the help of renowned anthropologist Louis Leakey in 1971, and became one of “Leakey’s Angels”. Since then, Galdikas has been based in Asia. She founded The Orangutan Foundation International in 1986 to fund orangutan research. Galdikas isn’t a hero to everyone in Indonesia, where she fights for acreage to be set aside for the apes, and fights against those who wish to use the land for more profitable endeavors. She is now a citizen of Indonesia, but spends a few months every year teaching at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. She is also a full professor at Universitas Nasional in Jakarta.

9. Dian Fossey


Dian Fossey was another of Leakey’s Angels. Fossey lived in Rwanda for 18 years studying the lowland gorilla in its natural habitat. She approached and befriended a colony of gorillas, gaining their trust over time, and was even accepted as a member of their group. Over the years, Fossey wrote about her relationship with the gorillas, which led to the supporting of her work through the Digit Fund (named after her favorite juvenile gorilla), which later grew into the organization The Gorilla Fund. Fossey’s conservation efforts were not welcomed by Rwandan poachers, whom she fought tooth and nail. She was found murdered in her cabin in 1985. The crime was never solved. Fossey had already written the bookGorillas in the Mist, which became a major motion picture in 1988.

10. Jane Goodall



The third member of Leakey’s Angels here, Jane Goodall is currently the premier authority on chimpanzees. Goodall first traveled to Africa from her native England in 1957. There, she met and impressed Louis Leakey, who hired her to do research on chimpanzees. Goodall began her research at Gombe, Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Over the years, she documented the social structure of a chimpanzee colony and reported on it for National Geographic Magazine. Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977. The foundation works to conserve areas where chimpanzees can flourish, and funds research into our understanding of these apes who are so closely related to us. In 1994, Goodall also founded TACARE, an organization dedicated to helping the people of Tanzania. Now 76, she travels the world to educate people about apes and raise funds for chimpanzee conservation.