lucy-human-chimp

Was Lucy the Human Chimp killed by poachers? All we know

Are you a fan of true-crime?

Emmy Griffiths

Channel 4's new documentary Lucy, the Human Chimp is set to air on Monday night and looks at the life of Lucy, a chimpanzee who was raised as a human in a social experiment back in the 1960s, and her relationship with her main carer, Janis Carter. 

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Lucy was initially raised by psychologists Maurice and Jane Temerlin, where she learned sign language, how to dress herself and to eat with silverware. However, when Lucy became an adolescent chimp and threatened her human family after biting someone, she learned how to live in the wild, where Janis lived with her for several years as she tried to adapt to life. 

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Two years after initially leaving Lucy after years helping to adapt in her new home in Gambia, Janis returned to find Lucy's skeleton with no skin or hair, and believed that she had been killed by poachers. 

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This is the theory that has been widely supported over the years, with author Dale Peterson writing in Visions of Caliban: "Her entire skeleton, minus hands and feet, was found intact at Janis Carter’s old campsite on the island. There was no evidence of injury from a fall, no signs of attack by other animals.

lucy-human-chimp

Lucy was raised among humans

"Death by snakebite or a sudden viral illness seemed unlikely; Lucy would have possessed the strength to return to a provisioning area where project workers regularly checked on the apes. Perhaps, it was thought, Lucy had been shot by human intruders." 

Next of Kin's Roger Fouts added: "Janis Carter found Lucy’s skeleton by their old campsite. It appeared that Lucy had been shot and skinned by human poachers. Whoever had killed her had cut off her hands and feet. They were probably sold as trophies in one of the African markets that also offer gorilla skulls and elephant feet." 

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