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Lucy, the Human Chimp

  • Season 1

Summary

The incredible story of a chimpanzee raised as a human and the woman who tried to set her free - in a fascinating study of what unites humans and apes. And what divides them.

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Episode 1: Lucy, the Human Chimp

Summary

Documentary about Lucy, a chimpanzee who was raised as a human in the 1960s, living with a psychology professor from the University of Oklahoma as a member of his family. When the experiment became too dangerous to continue, Lucy was returned to the wild, accompanied by a student who chose to live with her on a remote uninhabited island, adopting the behaviour of apes in the hope of teaching Lucy the skills she has lost.
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Review

This is one of those extraordinary tales of a well-meaning (but in the end, cruel) attempt to raise a chimpanzee as a human child. Lucy was a captive chimp adopted in 1964 by psychologists at the University of Oklahoma, who taught her sign language and raised her as their daughter in a radical test of nature v nurture.

Once Lucy grew into an adult, however, they realised they had to return her to the wild. The hero of the story is Janis Carter, a graduate student who ended up accompanying Lucy to a remote reserve in Africa, where she was to be taught survival skills and released. It’s a moving story about what we do and don’t share with our close animal relatives.

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Credits

Crew

rolename
DirectorAlex Parkinson
Executive producerMatt Cole

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