Lucy (1964–1987) was a chimpanzee owned by the Institute for Primate Studies in Oklahoma, and raised by Maurice K. Temerlin, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and professor at the University of Oklahoma and his wife, Jane.
Temerlin and his wife raised Lucy as if she were a human child, teaching her to eat with silverware, dress herself, flip through magazines, and sit in a chair at the dinner table. She was taught rudimentary American Sign Language by primatologist Roger Fouts as part of an ape language project and eventually learned 140 signs. She appeared in Life magazine, where she became famous for drinking straight gin, rearing a cat, and using Playgirl and a vacuum cleaner for sexual gratification. Around that time, the Temerlins introduced her for the first time to a male chimpanzee, and she was frightened and did not relate to him, let alone find him attractive. Fouts has written that when he arrived at Lucy's home at 8:30 every morning, Lucy would greet him with a hug, take the kettle, fill it with water, find two cups and tea bags, and serve the tea.
By the time she was 12, Lucy had become very strong and was very destructive in the Temerlin house. Eventually, she was shipped to a chimpanzee rehabilitation center in Gambia, accompanied by University of Oklahoma psychology graduate student Janis Carter. For years, Lucy was unable to relate to the other chimps in the rehabilitation center, and never reproduced, displaying sexual attraction only to humans. Lucy showed many signs of depression, including refusal to eat, and expressed "hurt" via sign language. Though her adopted Temerlin parents stayed with Lucy for only a few weeks in Gambia, Janis Carter remained at the Center for years, devoting a great deal of time to helping Lucy assimilate to life in the wild.
A year after leaving Lucy, Carter returned with some of Lucy's belongings. Lucy and a group of chimps greeted her, and Lucy embraced her, and then left with the other chimps without turning back, which Carter interpreted as Lucy having adapted to life as a chimpanzee. One year after that, Carter returned and found Lucy's skeleton with hands missing and head separated from the rest of the body, and no sign of skin or hair, from which Carter concluded that Lucy had been poached. However, others who were intimately involved in Lucy's rehabilitation question this possibility, because the skeleton, in its advanced state of decomposition, could not provide evidence of poaching over some other cause of death.
Public radio coverage
In early 2010, Lucy's life-story was the subject of a one-hour Radiolab episode 702, "Lucy". Excerpts of this show were also included in the February 19, 2010, episode of This American Life, Episode 401, "Parent Trap". Both stories focus on Lucy's lifelong emotional stress.
Lucy was observed prevaricating (i.e. lying) – something that was once considered uniquely human, because it is evidence of a sense of self. In this sign-language conversation, Fouts asks Lucy about a pile of chimpanzee feces on the floor:
Fouts: What that?
Lucy: What that?
Fouts: You known. What that?
Lucy: Dirty dirty.
Fouts: Whose dirty dirty?
Lucy: Sue. [a reference to Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a graduate student of Fouts]
Fouts: It not Sue. Whose that?
Fouts: No! Not mine. Whose?
Lucy: Lucy dirty dirty. Sorry Lucy.
- Dale Peterson (1995). Chimpanzee Travels: On and Off the Road in Africa. London: The University of Georgia Press. pp. 136, 151. ISBN 0-8203-2489-2.
- Pagan Kennedy. "Chimps Will Inherit the Earth?". Beacon Press.
- David Goldenberg. "The Nipple Fetish". Gelf Magazine.
- Douglas Foster (November 2005). "35 Who Made a Difference: Janis Carter". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
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- Steven M. Wise (2000). Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books. ISBN 0-7382-0437-4.
- Animal People I Nov. 06 Did poachers really kill Lucy, the sign language chimp?
- WNYC Radio (January 2010). "Radiolab Show 702 - Lucy". Radio (USA: NPR and Public Radio Exchange). Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- This American Life (2010-02-19). "Episode 401: Parent Trap" (in en-US). USA: WBEZ Radio. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Fouts, Roger; Mills, Stephen Tukel (1997), Next of kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are, William Morrow and Co, p. 156, ISBN 978-0-688-14862-1
- Temerlin, Maurice. (1976) Lucy: Growing Up Human: A Chimpanzee Daughter in a Psychotherapist's Family ISBN 0-8314-0045-5