Galdikas, Birute 1946–

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Galdikas, Birute 1946–

(Biruté Galdikas, Birute M.F. Galdikas, Birute Marija Filomena Galdikas, Birute Mary Galdikas)

PERSONAL: Born May 10, 1946, in Wiesbaden, Germany; married Rod Brindamour (divorced); married Pak Bo Hap; children: (first marriage) Binty (son); (second marriage) two. Education: Attended University of California, Los Angeles; holds a Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Home—Borneo, Indonesia, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 115 W. 18th St., New York, NY 10011.

CAREER: Primatologist and conservationsist. Studying orangutans, Borneo, Indonesia, 1971–; Minister of Forestry, Indonesia, senior advisor, 1996–98; Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, part-time teacher. Has also appeared on television shows and in documentaries, including the Johnny Carson Show; Orangutans: Grasping the Last Branch, 1989; 30 Years of National Geographic Specials, 1995; Life and Times, "Birute Galdikas: The Third Angel," 1996; and Nature, "From Orphan to King," 2005.

AWARDS, HONORS: Order of Canada; Kalpataru award, Republic of Indonesia, 1997, for environmental activism.



(As Birute Marija Filomena Galdikas) Adaptasi orangutan di Suaka Tanjung Puting, Kalimantan Tengah, Penerbit Universitas Indonesia (lakarta, Indonesia), 1984.

(As Birute M.F. Galdikas) Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.

(Editor, with R.D. Nadler, N. Rosen, and Lori K. Sheeran; as Birute M.F. Galdikas) The Neglected Ape, Springer, 1996.

(As Birute M.F. Galdikas, with Nancy Briggs) Orangutan Odyssey, introduction by lane Goodall, photographs by Karl Ammann, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor, with others; as Birute M.F. Galdikas) All Apes Great and Small, Kluwer Academic (New York, NY), 2001.

(As Birute Mary Galdikas) Great Ape Odyssey, foreword by lane Goodall, photographs by Karl Ammann, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Birute Galdikas is a primatologist and a contemporary of the famous primatologist lane Goodall (both women studied together under the same mentor). While Goodall is known for her work with gorillas, Galdikas is known for her work with orangutans. She has lived with and studied orangutans in the jungles of Borneo, Indonesia, since 1971. In the course of her work she has also become an environmental activist in her efforts to preserve the orangutans' habitat. Because of this, Galdikas won the prestigious Kalpataru award from the Republic of Indonesia in 1997, and she was the first non-Indonesian to receive the honor. Galdikas has also written and edited several books about her work with primates. Her memoir, Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo, was published in 1995.

In her book Orangutan Odyssey, which she wrote with Nancy Briggs, Galdikas discusses orangutans, their habitat, and the fact that eighty percent of that habitat has been destroyed, predominantly by logging, over the 1980s and 1990s. Galdikas explains that because orangutans rely on trees for the vast majority of their food and shelter, they are especially vulnerable to the effects of deforestation. Coupled with the fact that female orangutans give birth only once in an eight-year period, the orangutan population is near extinction. The book is filled with photographs of orangutans by Karl Ammann, and most reviewers commented that the images are both delightful and effective. A Publishers Weekly critic called the book "memorable, informal and attractive," although a Whole Earth contributor called the writing "ho-hum." Animals reviewer Lisa M. Capone offered a different opinion; she stated, "This book will in turn make readers smile with delight, catch their breath in awe, and shudder with heartache."

The book Great Ape Odyssey follows a format similar to that of its predecessor; it, too, contains photographs by Karl Ammann. This volume, however, does not only discuss orangutans; it also features gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos. The primates' behavior and habitats are described, as are Galdikas's research pertaining to them. All four of these primates are endangered species, and, according to Library Journal critic H. James Birx, this makes the "detailed work an especially significant contribution to science and anthropology." Galdikas shows the threat the apes are constantly under—their habitat is disappearing, they are hunted for their meat, or they are captured to be traded as pets on the black market. Images of distressed and orphaned primates underline Galdikas's message. In response to this, an OnEarth reviewer stated that, in order to save these endangered animals, the book may be just "the kind of graphic reminder of our kinship with these extraordinary primates that we need."



Galdikas, Birute M.F., Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.


Animals, November, 1999, Lisa M. Capone, review of Orangutan Odyssey, p. 36.

Booklist, November 1, 1999, Nancy Bent, review of Orangutan Odyssey, p. 495.

Library Journal, November 1, 1999, Beth Clewis Crim, review of Orangutan Odyssey, p. 118; June 1, 2005, H. James Birx, review of Great Ape Odyssey, p. 168.

OnEarth, summer, 2005, review of Great Ape Odyssey, p. 39.

Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1999, review of Orangutan Odyssey, p. 68.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 1997, review of The Neglected Ape, p. 343.

SciTech Book News, June, 2005, review of Great Ape Odyssey, p. 57.

Whole Earth, summer, 2000, review of Orangutan Odyssey, p. 86.


Canadian Broadcasting Company Web site, (March 20, 2006), author profile.

Sea Sheperd Conservation Society Web site, (March 20, 2006), author profile.

Zoocheck Canada, (March 20, 2006), author profile.