It was written by Frans de Waal, a Dutch expert on primate behavior. He had visited the Royal Burgers’ Zoo a couple years after the founding of Mama’s colony in 1974. As its name suggests, the book focused on the social structure and private lives of chimpanzees.
As the matriarch of her troop, Mama was of key importance to the Royal Burgers’ Zoo’s chimpanzee colony. De Waal explained that Mama’s assertiveness and social skills kept the colony in line. “She had an exceptionally strong and dominant personality,” he described.