The University of Arizona

What Gorillas Can Teach Us About Fatherhood

By Jeff Harrison, October 20, 2010

Primate researchers Dieter and Netzin Steklis will discuss their work and offer details on a summer field school in rural Africa during a public lecture Friday, Oct. 22, as part of Homecoming week.

Netzin Steklis and primate friend. (Photos courtesy Dieter and Netzin Steklis)
Netzin Steklis and primate friend. (Photos courtesy Dieter and Netzin Steklis)
Netzin and Dieter Steklis study a gorilla (lower right) emerging from the forest.
Netzin and Dieter Steklis study a gorilla (lower right) emerging from the forest.

Internationally respected gorilla researchers Dieter and Netzin Steklis will present their latest findings on how studying gorillas and other primates expands our understanding of the human family during the University of Arizona's Homecoming week.

At the presentation, the Steklises also will announce details about a new primate field school in Rwanda through the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families and the UA Study Abroad Office.

Their talk, "The Nature of Families: What Primates Can Teach Us About Fatherhood," will cover their lifetime of work following great ape and monkey families to learn about primate parenting as a way to gain greater understanding of human father-child and other family relationships. The presentation is Friday, Oct. 22, from 11-11:45 a.m. in McClelland Park, Room 105.

"We are excited about sponsoring this study abroad program as part of the fathers, parenting and families initiative in the institute," said, Stephen Russell, director of the Frances McClelland Institute. "We have a lot to learn by studying gorillas' parenting behavior."

The first Primate Family Systems Field School university study abroad will be held next summer. The school will offer students a four-week interdisciplinary field study to observe primate family systems using evolutionary biology, psychology, anthropology and human development as analytical tools.

Much of the research will be based in Rwanda's diverse national parks, where the gorilla families, golden monkeys, chimpanzees, black and white colobus and guenon monkeys travel through an African-alpine jungle and savanna habitat. The field study will includes camping in Rwanda's savanna countryside to observe troops of baboons and vervet monkeys and climbing the slopes of extinct volcanoes to follow groups of gorillas.

This is the second Homecoming week presentation the Steklises have done for the Norton School. Read about last year's event online.

Contacts

Kimberley A. Brooke

520-626-7952

kbrooke@email.arizona.edu