Lucy, the Human Chimp review: Story about a chimp being raised like a human

It is so much is now already been known about our similarities to other primates that it is quite easy to forget that until very recently, we found out exactly where we, humans, and apes ended. In the 20th century, studying chimpanzees was primarily a way of learning about ourselves: how we can travel in space and communicate without a common language.

Lucy – The Human Chimp, a brand new TV documentary.

Presented by the KEO Films and Channel 4, explores the union of these worlds through a story of a unique relationship: between Lucy, the chimp who humans raised, and Janis Carter, a student who is cleaning the Coop. . A. In the late 1960s, Lucy was the subject of a high-profile study done by the psychologists Maurice and Jane Temerlin in which she appeared to be exploring the natural boundaries of parenting.

The Temerlins raised Lucy in their home more or less like a human child. Teaching her to dress, eat cutlery, and even make gin and tonics. Primate expert Roger Foots, whose success teaching chimp Washo as a widespread form of American sign language in the 1970s. Also taught Lucy a vocabulary of about 100 characters (although apes’ understanding of signatures is controversial).

Eventually, the Temerlins began to think of chimps as their daughters. Much has been done to Lucy’s story, including episodes of the famous Radiolab podcast. Lucy, the human-chimp, written and directed by Alex Parkinson, offers to tell Carter what happens next.

Carter was a 25-year-old psychology student at the University of Oklahoma Chimpanzee Research Project:

When he responded to Temerlin’s part-time job for Lucy in 1976. After a cold start – Carter recalls chimps as “arrogant and extremely condescending”. About their poor understanding of sign language. The two of them form a close bond. But juvenile chimpanzees were increasingly becoming a threat to their human families and locked up in cages.

In 1977 Temerlins decided to take 12-year-old Lucy to the Gambia to learn how to live in the wild. Carter continues to help. For him, the journey went from weeks to years. When Lucy found it challenging to adapt to life as a chimpanzee. Since 1979 he has lived with Lucy. A small group of chimpanzees orphaned and captured for nearly seven years on an uninhabited island in the Gambia River. Carter only left the island after a young man attacked him in 1985 and succeeded him.

More than what the title suggests, Parkinson’s film focuses on Carter and his relationship with Lucy. As Carter himself puts it. The interview with Jane Temerlin and the actor’s reconstruction (based on live reporting) provides some context and some critical distance.

Carter’s ten-year commitment to protecting Lucy:

Now her performance as a director of the Gambian Chimp Rehabilitation Project – is unquestionably extraordinary. Parkinson’s film, however, does not challenge the notion that Lucy, who was born and raised in captivity. He was never really a suitable candidate for rehabilitation and release in the wild and suffered from the experience.

As described by journalist Deborah Bloom in her 1994 book The Monkey Wars. More recently, in the 2011 documentary Nim Project, monkeys do worse and worse in their interactions with humans. Even with the best intentions. Lucy started life at a roadside zoo in Florida in 1964. Several years after Carter’s departure, she graduated under mysterious circumstances. A hunter probably killed him.

Lucy, the human chimp, cares less about the major ethical issues posed by Lucy’s somewhat unfortunate existence. An about her “extraordinary and unbreakable friendship” with Carter. Although, if so, Carter may not be in the best position to answer you. Indeed, the film is a compelling exploration of the lengths and limits of chimps. And human endeavors in their respective worlds – albeit similarly.

Just when Lucy was raised as a human, Carter lived like a chimp. But after most of the decades, he had to recover and come back to himself. He said, “I can’t live in both worlds.”