Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human

Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human

Elizabeth Hess

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0553382772

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Now Elizabeth Hess’s unforgettable biography is the inspiration for Project Nim, a riveting new documentary directed by James Marsh and produced by Simon Chinn, the Oscar-winning team known for Man on Wire. Hess, a consultant on the film, says, “Getting a call from James Marsh and Simon Chinn is an author’s dream. Project Nim is nothing short of amazing.”

An adorable baby chimp, a loving family, and an experiment that changed the lives of all it touched . . .

Project Nim, the brainchild of a Columbia University psychologist, was designed to refute Noam Chomsky’s claim that language is an exclusively human trait. Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee chosen to realize this potentially groundbreaking experiment, was raised like a human child and taught American Sign Language while living with his “adoptive family” in their elegant Manhattan town house. But when funding for the study ended, Nim’s problems began. Over the next two decades he was exiled from the people he loved, put in a cage, and moved from one facility to another, including, most ominously, a medical research lab. But wherever he went, Nim’s humanlike qualities and his ability to communicate with humans saved him. A creature of extraordinary charm and charisma, Nim ultimately triumphed over a dramatic series of reversals and obstacles. His story, both moving and entertaining, also raises the most profound questions of what it means to be human—and about what we owe to the animals who enrich our lives.

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Monkeys, and now they wanted their own chimps too. Lemmon, eager to collect more data for his research, set out to bring more chimps to Norman. Getting hold of infant chimps during the 1960s was a difficult and expensive proposition. Pan and Wendy had been born in Africa and purchased through a commercial dealer, the usual way of obtaining research animals. But for his next round of studies, Lemmon wanted even younger babies. As a psychologist, he believed that the less time they spent with.

Story. Peter Lemmon does not recall ever seeing his father wearing such a ring. Nor did he ever witness his father beat or abuse a chimpanzee, including Pan, he says. But there is no doubt that Lemmon fostered a kill-or-be-killed atmosphere both within the cages and outside them. If it could be said that Pan ruled over the chimpanzees, it could also be said that Lemmon ruled over Pan—and Fouts. Although Fouts viewed himself as being on the side of the animals, against Lemmon, the two sides were.

He could extract it without entering her cage. No one will ever know whether Washoe was trying to brush her baby's teeth or hurt him. But either way, Sequoyah had a very sore throat and subsequently contracted pneumonia, from which he died. According to O'Sullivan, who was one of several students monitoring mother and infant in round-the-clock shifts, Fouts fully understood that Washoe might harm her infant, as captive chimps are prone to do, often because of depression. “We had a little cap gun.

Where do you go with an adult chimpanzee? Most landlords don't even allow a dog. Moore was just the kind of person that Lemmon liked. She was tough and could handle chimps, and in return for being allowed to park her trailer on the property, she was willing to help care for his growing population of transient chimps. There was only one catch: Lemmon insisted on treating Lilly like all the other IPS chimps and wanted to move her to a cage. Moore agreed. But no one, with the possible exception of.

Social life, time outdoors in the fresh air, and high-quality food—apparently made it less desirable for drug trials. But if Lemmon could not bring the drug trials to Norman, he could send his chimps to the facility where they were going to happen. Lemmon quietly offered the majority of his adult colony, approximately thirty chimpanzees out of a total of around forty, to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), owned by New York University, which had won the.

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