Posted by Pete DeLaunay on Nov 06, 2019

Author, speaker and family physician, John Crocker, shared his observations and experiences with wild chimpanzees that were inspired by his mentor -- well known English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall. “Chimp behavior was an adventure in itself learning chimp behavior right up close in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park for eight months,” he began. “Short of having the ability to speak, the DNA of chimpanzees is only 2% different than humans.” 


As a Stanford undergraduate, Dr. Crocker took a year off to join Jane Goodall and live and learn from chimpanzees. “Before I left, I agreed to ‘babysit’ an orphaned chimp named Baboo. Carrying a backpack of bottles, bananas and pampers, I took Baboo on outings as he grew to depend on me, not unlike other primates developing a mother-infant relationship,” he said. “Ironically, as my adventure in Tanzania was to begin Baboo went off to Stanford’s primate center while I went to Africa to learn more about chimps.” 


He described the bond between mother and infant chimp as very close and connected. Female chimps nurse their young for up to four years. “One of our subjects, a chimpanzee we named FiFi, died and her infant was so upset he died three weeks later,” he said as he cued a short video clip that showed how chimpanzees get their food efficiently and intelligently drawing termites from a mound with long blades of grass.  He described the differences in behavior between male chimps who dominate with displays of aggression, while females forage for food such as bird eggs, roots and lots of roughage. 


As a practicing family physician, Dr. Crocker has seen hundreds of patients many of whom experienced anxiety associated with their ‘community’ such as the stress of commuting to work. He prescribed breathing exercises and most importantly a connection with nature – somewhat the way chimps relieve anxiety in the wild. 


Dr. Crocker said Jane Goodall, who is 85 years old, maintains a rigorous schedule lecturing 300 days each year for her ‘Roots & Shoots’ environmental education program. He maintains a close relationship with her and considers her his mentor. He quoted her as saying, “Each of you can make a difference and you can choose what type of difference you want to make.” 


He concluded by saying ‘genes are important as the modern world gets smaller. We need to look more at collaboration versus aggression – and controlling it in modern society.'


President Kim rang the bell and welcomed Todd Summerfelt and Jevon Powell for the day’s anthem, ‘This Land is Your Land.' This was followed by Fr. Steve Sundborg whose inspiration focused on the health and well-being of veterans as their special day approached. 


Faith Ireland won a nice bottle of wine for her recruiting efforts. Rotary Cares Co-chair, Fedva Dikmen, encouraged Rotarians to contact her with news about illnesses, weddings, births and so forth so her committee can send special messages. Send news so Fedva can distribute it to Taylor Shimizu encouraged Rotarians to join her and many others for the Cystic Fibrosis Stair Climb on November 21 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at 1201 Third Avenue.  To learn more visit


On behalf of the Seattle Rotary Service Foundation, Tom Mesaros said of 389 members, 91 (or 23%) had contributed $81,233 so far and we are aiming for a goal of $225,000. He concluded with a Paul Harris quote: “Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.” 


For more photos, check out our Facebook page. 


Thank you Totem Reporter Pete DeLaunay


Media Sponsors