Dr Desmond Morris

Dr Desmond Morris

Desmond Morris is a British zoologist who is also a well-known author and broadcaster. He has written or cowritten more than a dozen books that have increased popular interest in animal and human behavior. Morris has also helped produce films and television programs that explore the social behavior of animals.

 

John Desmond Morris was born in Purton, England. He received a B.Sc. degree from the University of Birmingham, England, in 1951, and a Ph.D. degree from Oxford University in 1954. Morris was ah animal behavior researcher at the zoology department at Oxford from 1954 to 1956. In 1956, he became the head of the Granada Television and Film Unit at the Zoological Society of London. He was appointed curator of mammals at the Zoological Society of London in 1959, and from 1967 to 1968 he was director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Morris first gained popular attention with “Zootime,” a weekly live television program that featured animals from the London Zoo. He hosted the program from 1956 to 1967.

Morris's book The Naked Ape was published in 1967. In that book, he stated that humans were merely one of the many variations in the ape family. He then attempted to explain the complexity of human behavior by comparing it to that of the lesser apes. The book became a bestseller. However, many anthropologists considered it to be more provocative than substantive. In The Human Zoo (1969), Morris likens the urban environment of cities to that of a zoo, illustrating how confined animals seem to demonstrate many of the same behavior patterns as human beings often do in crowded cities. The Naked Ape became a Universal Studios film in 1973.

A prolific writer, Morris wrote several other books, including The Biology of Art (1962) and The Mammals: A Guide to the Living Species (1965). With his wife, Ramona Morris, he wrote Men and Snakes (1965), Men and Apes (1966), and Men and Pandas (1966). Meanwhile, he also continued his work as a research fellow at Wolf-son College, Oxford, from 1973 to 1981.