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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Chasing Lemurs

My Journey into the Heart of Madagascar

by (author) Keriann McGoogan

Globe Pequot
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Personal Memoirs, Primatology, Cultural
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price

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This inspiring memoir of one woman's experience in the field is an exotic adventure story, a surprise journey of self-discovery, and a deeply personal appreciation of a place that's unlike any other.

At age twenty-five, graduate student Keriann McGoogan traveled into the wilds of Madagascar to study lemurs in their natural habitat and to set up a permanent field site in the remote northwest--a site to which she could later return to do research for her PhD in biological anthropology. Despite careful planning, the trip spiraled out of control. Food poisoning, harrowing backcountry roads, grueling hikes, challenging local politics, malaria, and an emergency evacuation would turn a simple reconnaissance into an epic adventure.

In an engaging narrative, the author vividly describes the challenges of life in an isolated forest region while also bringing to life the wonders of Madagascar's incredible biodiversity, especially its many varieties of lemurs. Sadly, these rare animals are the most endangered group of primates in the world.

At first accompanied by her thesis advisor, McGoogan is soon left alone when her mentor must return home. She carries on as the lone woman amid a small band of local male assistants, diligently conducting research on the lemur population around the camp. But when her right-hand man becomes delirious with malaria, she is forced to lead her team on a desperate three-day trek to safety.

This fascinating memoir is equal parts a journey of self-discovery, an adventure story, and a heartfelt appreciation of a wonderful island country teaming with unique species and peopled by the warm and welcoming Malagasies with their intriguing indigenous culture.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Keriann McGoogan has a doctorate in biological anthropology and a master's in primatology. For nineteen months, she lived and worked in Madagascar, spending twelve-hour days following groups of lemurs through the northwestern dry forests. Previously, she had spent six months in Belize studying black howler monkeys. From 2009 to 2017, she taught courses in anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, the University of Waterloo, and Trent University. Although she has left the world of academia and works now as an editor for an educational publisher, McGoogan finds time to volunteer as a board member for Planet Madagascar, a nonprofit that aims to conserve Madagascar's unique biodiversity while also helping the local Malagasy people.

Editorial Reviews

"Keriann McGoogan weaves a gritty and truthful tale that immerses readers in the remote, dangerous, and uncomfortable world of expeditionary fieldwork. The intense narrative reveals the wonders of a lost world and the sacrifices made in the name of research. Her confessions of self-doubt and uncertainty will resonate with anyone facing life's challenges or choosing to take the road less traveled."

–Jill Heinerth,author of Into The Planet - My Life as a Cave Diver

“Keriann McGoogan has given us a fascinating adventure story that is also a superb travelogue, field guide, and social portrait of one of the world's least-known, yet truly exotic countries. A reader could hardly ask for a more encompassing overview of Madagascar or a clearer description of its increasingly threatened ecology. Importantly, the reader is left with the terrible realization of how badly humans have treated our fellow primates -- the many and intriguingly various species of lemurs, who are endemic to this African island. McGoogan’s 's book is fundamentally a call to action to protect these complex and endangered creatures, and she has succeeded admirably.”

–Geoff White, Canadian chargé d'affaires to Madagascar, 2010-2013

“Chasing Lemurs is a riveting journey into one of our planet’s most imperiled biodiversity hotspots. With the irrepressible spirit and sure voice of a hardened traveler, McGoogan exposes the physical and mental toll that remote scientific field work can take upon the scientist, and how moments of epiphany in the wild are made all the richer for it. The adventure of a lifetime. Recommended for all primate fans, and anyone who has ever dreamed of studying animals in the wild.” –Andrew Westoll, author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary