Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whatever happened to Lucy

My sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma I had a professor, Dr. Temerlin, who taught psychology. It was the most interesting class I had in college. And we had to read a book called "The Person" that basically covered the person from birth to death. It was the biggest text book I had all through college, and the only one I read cover to cover. You could sell it back, but I still have that book.
Dr. Temerlin and his wife were raising a chimp, Lucy, from birth to be as much like a human child as possible. Many of his lectures would be about their progress with Lucy. He even brought her to class a couple of times. They taught her sign language and she was able to learn over 140 signs. This was fascinating to me, and from time to time, after college, I would hear news of Lucy and how she progressed. But like a lot of things, I didn't really seek out news, just moved on. Saturday, after leaving a brunch I had to attend, it was terrible, I was listening to NPR's This American Life, and they were telling the story of what happened to Lucy. The short version is that they put her in a rehabilitation center in Gambia, but she did not adapt to the wild. The story is much more interesting than that. Janis Carter, a grad student under the Temerlins, actually lived with Lucy and other chimps trying to re-introduce them to the wild. Again, the short version is that Lucy finally left sanctuary and when Janis returned after about a year, she found Lucy dead.
The story was both interesting and of course sad. I was fascinated by what Lucy learned, one thing is she would lie. Something they thought was unique to humans. But the sad thing is that Lucy had never lived in the wild, and then they tried to introduce her to it, and you know the result. Isn't that just like humans? When they're through with you, they basically throw you away. But I'm able to say I know what happened to Lucy.

3 comments:

Just_because_today said...

I dont agree with taking animals out of their habitat. She should have always been in the wild.
It is like us being removed from civilization and then introduced to it with no social skills, not language, no ability to belong.

Reese said...

Interesting comment Myriam, especially in light of the incident at Seaworld Orlando today where the trainer was killed by the whale.

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