Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 478
Robert Sapolsky is the author. He lived with a troop of baboons on the Serengeti on and off for twenty years, studying their emotional responses to stress and how it caused physical changes. He was very interested in studying gorillas as a child but made the switch to baboons because they were more suited to his research. He becomes very invested with his original troop and is angry and devastated when they're killed in the tuberculosis plague.
Lisa Sapolsky is Robert's wife. She originally studied marine biology but moved into clinical neuropsychology. She's kind, funny, and adept at living in Africa during their times there. Her presence encourages the local community to visit camp more.
Benjamin Sapolsky is Robert and Lisa's son.
Rachel Sapolsky is Robert and Lisa's daughter.
Rhoda is the daughter of a woman who was kidnapped by the Masai tribe. She modernizes the Masai tribe to some extent by communicating with the outside world. She speaks Maa, Swahili, and some English. Sapolsky says Rhoda was his first friend with the Masai.
Serere is a man in the Masai tribe who steals money from Rhoda. He doesn't seem phased by his crime and seems to feel that the money is his right. Rhoda hits him with a log.
Jeremiah is a lorry driver that helps Sapolsky get around.
Pius is the leader of a gang who comes from Eldorat. He takes Sapolsky captive and doesn't let him leave. Sapolsky only escapes because Pius becomes drunk and sick. He's young, tall, thin, and dresses in "an absolutely ludicrous pair of bright red six-inch platform shoes."
Richard is a research assistant. He comes from an agricultural tribe that lives to the north of the Masai. He's an emotional person who is bubbly and tends to copy the mannerisms of the people he meets. He and Hudson become friends with Sapolsky over time.
Hudson is another research assistant from a tribe to the west of the Masai. He's a reserved, steady person who is financing the education of several of his relatives.
Samwelly is another research assistant of Sapolsky. He comes close to succumbing to depression and madness but is pulled back from it when elephants attack the home he made. He fights back and finds a new sense of purpose in doing so. He's Richard's brother.
Benjamin is one of the baboons that Sapolsky gets very attached to and identifies with. He has messy hair, is clumsy, and isn't good with the females of his troop. He dies in the TB plague.
Solomon, Leah, Devorah, Aaron, Isaac, Naomi, and Rachel are some of the other baboons that Sapolsky works with.
Joshua is the last surviving member of the original baboon troop. At the end of the book, Sapolsky describes how he sits with him and Lisa, feeding the baboon English digestive biscuits and looking out over the Serengeti.