chimps in the news

This week’s New Yorker alerted me to the existence of a new film on Nim Chimpsky, one of Lucy’s contemporaries. Project Nim (see a clip here) opened this year’s Sundance Festival and has been picked up by HBO Films.

In addition, the current New York magazine carries the story of Travis, a chimp that lived in a human home for 15 years (three years longer than Lucy lasted with the Temerlins). For those of us working on this show, and for those of you following it, there is nothing new here. Travis is an adorable, affectionate infant. Travis learns lots of human behaviors, like using the toilet and drinking wine. Travis becomes a minor celebrity. And then it all goes tragically wrong. The only thing that surprised me is the fact that, after everything we learned from Nim, Lucy, and all the other chimps we toyed with in the 60s and 70s, a family was allowed to adopt a chimp in 1995.

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