Author Archives: Kelley Rourke

a chimp by any other name

Lucy sits in the cart as we shop at the grocery store. Occasionally a manager will say “No pets allowed.” We are indignant. “Lucy is not a pet. She is our daughter.” In most cases, that suffices. Andy was in town this week for a concert with the Five Boroughs Music Festival, which gave him, [...]

lucy needs a drink

Lucy is an ideal drinking companion. She makes sounds of great delight when offered a drink. The only liquor I have seen her refuse is straight crème de menthe. She never gets obnoxious, even when smashed to the brink of unconsciousness. Raising a chimp meant lots of extra expenses for the Temerlin family. Not only [...]

news of the day

Trouble in the Monkey House

tough questions

From the New York Times, September 1. ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — Flo the chimpanzee bounds about her enclosure, hurls a rubber ball then stares quizzically at the New Mexico green chili pepper that will be her morning snack. It has been a long time since Flo was on exhibit at the Memphis Zoo, even longer since [...]


Thinking too much about Maurice and Lucy has made me slightly uncomfortable with domesticated animals in general. Yes, Maurice crossed line after line with Lucy, socializing her to enjoy a gin and tonic while she, um, enjoyed the latest issue of Playgirl. But on what side of the line is the dog owner who subjects [...]

telling stories

This weekend the New York Times ran an interesting article called “Does Language Shape the Way You Think?” Lucy lived with the Temerlins for a number of years before learning to communicate via American Sign Language. While her “father” had encouraged her to adopt many human behaviors over the years, he didn’t feel any particular [...]

l’incoronazione di lucy?

L’Incoronazione di Poppea was the first opera that really bowled me over. In fact, without Poppea, there would have been no Lucy. Beyond the fact that Poppea seduced me into seeking a career in this rich art form, Monteverdi’s opera about political and amorous intrigues in ancient Rome was extremely helpful as we thought about [...]

face time

One of the smartest people I know says that e-mail is death to collaboration, and he’s right. E-mail, smart phones, all those things make it easier for us to spew words at each other, but it’s not the same as being in the same room. E-mail and phone “conversations” are as much like the real [...]

the beast within

I’ve been reading Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us About Humanity. It’s fascinating, but reader beware: this is a difficult book for anyone weak of stomach or soft of heart. It tells of the effects of mass culls on elephant families (and elephants do have a rich family life) in the wild, and [...]

come together

After months of collaborating via phone and e-mail, we’ll finally have (most of the) team together early next week. Jocelyn and I are spending the summer at lovely Glimmerglass Opera, and we’ll be joined here by in a few days by John and Andy. The music room is ready for some awesome new sounds…The toy [...]