Paul du Chaillu

(Paul Beloni Du Chaillu)


Paul du Chaillu was born in 1835 and as a child accompanied his father, a French trader, to western Africa. Once there, he was educated by missionaries and became fascinated with the country, its history, and its native peoples. He returned to Africa at the age of twenty, when he was sent by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia to explore the regions of the country nearest the equator. While there, he confirmed the existence of gorillas, until that time only known to scientists by a few skeletons and an unreliable account by Hanno the Navigator several centuries earlier. On a later expedition in he 1860s, he also discovered a race of pygmy people living in the lush forests. He sold the gorillas he hunted to the Natural History Museum of London, and the skulls he gathered were distributed among other European collectors. In addition, he authored several books on life in Africa, including The Country of the Dwarfs and Stories of the Gorilla Country.

After returning from Africa in 1865, du Chaillu travelled to northern Europe, visiting Norway, Sweden, and Finland and making records of the customs and antiquities he encountered there. He spent a total of eight years in Europe, preparing a two-volume history of the inhabitants of the Scandinavian Peninsula from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. The explorer and historian later died following a stroke in St. Petersburg, while travelling home from Russia, and his body was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.

Key events during the life of Paul du Chaillu:

Sent to Africa by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
  Confirmed the existence of gorillas.
Published Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa.
Went on another expedition to Africa.
Elected king of the Apingi tribe.
Published A Journey to Ashango-land.
Travelled to Norway.
Published The Country of the Dwarfs.
Died in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Image Links

Paul mending shoes
 in My Apingi Kingdom

The spirit taking leave
 in My Apingi Kingdom

Playing with young lions
 in My Apingi Kingdom

Du Chaillu and Quengueza
 in The Country of the Dwarfs

Du Chaillu meets his old friend Adjouatonga
 in The Country of the Dwarfs

Taking an observation
 in The Country of the Dwarfs

Foot-prints of the gorilla
 in Wild Life Under the Equator

Paul du Chaillu
 in Stories of the Gorilla Country

My reception by the king
 in Stories of the Gorilla Country

King astonished at a looking-glass
 in Stories of the Gorilla Country

Bit by a spider
 in Lost in the Jungle

Bidding good-by to Quengueza
 in Lost in the Jungle

Chally, chally, do not let me die.'
 in Lost in the Jungle

Giving beads to Querlaouen's wife
 in Lost in the Jungle

Reception of the king of the Ashiras
 in Lost in the Jungle

Short Biography