Robert Cribb is professor of Asian history at the
Australian National University.
Helen Gilbert is professor of theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.
Helen Tiffin is a leading scholar in postcolonial theory and literary studies. She was professor of English at the University of Tasmania and the University of Queensland, Australia.
The book documents the history of the importation and keeping of
orangutan specimens in
Europe, for the purposes both of science and of entertainment. It looks at attitudes to the process
of killing animals who were generally portrayed, in their forest homes, as savage and dangerous;
and it explores how the ways in which orangutans were treated and displayed once they reached
Europe - which often mimicked human ways and manners - reflected the continuing toying with
the possibility that orangutans were some kind of 'primitive' human.