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Chimps. Bonobos. Humans. We're all great apes, but that doesn’t mean we’re one happy family. This hour of Radiolab: stories of trying to live together.

Is this kind of cross-species co-habitation an utterly stupid idea? Or might it be our one last hope as more and more humans fill up the planet? A chimp named Lucy teaches us the ups and downs of growing up human, and a visit to The Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa highlights some of the basics of bonobo culture (be careful, they bite).

Check out this slideshow of Lucy's life, including the photo snapped as Janis and Lucy hugged in Gambia:

Slideshow produced by Sharon Shattuck.


Janis Carter, Bill Fields, Roger Fouts, David Garland, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Charles Siebert, Barbara Smuts, Jane Temerlin and Dr. Maurice K. Temerlin


Our hour begins with a tale from Dr. Barbara Smuts. She recounts a classic bully story, but with a twist: her bully was a chimp.

Next up: the haunting epic of Lucy the chimpanzee. When Lucy was only two days old, she was adopted by ...

Comments [227]

Lucy, the epilogue

After the experiments and after the press, what happened to Lucy? Janis Carter tells us firsthand how it ended.

Comments [247]


Though the Lucy experiment would largely be called a failure, could there be a way to re-do it... but better? Producer Soren Wheeler visits The Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, to meet Kanzi the bonobo. Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh uses lessons learned from her time with Lucy in ...

Comments [67]

Comments [456]

Tracy from Michigan

Oh how we can be so blinded by our pursuit of knowledge. This was just wrong and unfair. How terrible the mother felt to awake to find her baby gone. How sad to forget a chimp would grow up. How terrible to raise her as a human and then abandon her when it got too hard to maintain her. Thank heavens for Janis who refused to leave her for as long as she could. She’s the real scientist here.

Jan. 11 2018 10:59 PM
Jim from San Antonio, TX

This is one of the most affecting episodes of Radiolab that I've ever heard. It brought me near to tears more than once.

Aug. 12 2017 08:08 PM
TB from Usa

Lucy did not die because of a poacher. Those that abandoned her may as well shot her themselves. That would have been mercy. What they did was anything but.

Aug. 10 2017 10:15 PM
Annie from Chicago

Such a sad, sad tragic story. Poor baby... taken from her mom, ripped away from her "foster parents" aka captives, left by her friend Janice, and murdered by a poacher. What an unfair world. Very emotional story.

Aug. 09 2017 09:46 PM
Melanie and Alijha

This was truly an amazing story although it had me in tears. Such a tragic ending. Janice is an amazing person to comfort Lucy for all of that time during her transition. A true friend.

Aug. 08 2017 07:21 PM

This is one of the best animal stories ever told. Thanks you.

Aug. 06 2017 11:02 PM
Joy from Arizona

Bless you Janis. I know you went the extra mile for Lucy and truly appreciate your ongoing work.

Aug. 06 2017 09:55 PM
Tom Bush from 98107

Quite a sad story. I wonder if all these people who decry the treatment of Lucy are as sympathetic to the masses of humans in terrible conditions, being exploited and much worse, ignored by most of their fellow homo sapiens. This ignorance and indifference to others is only getting worse, accelerated by the unfeeling politicians from mayors, governors, congressional representatives, Senators and, of course our cur of a deplorable president. An insult to this country . Or at least 52% of the nation.

Aug. 06 2017 07:24 PM
Karen Blevins from Tempe, AZ

Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. How could they just abandon her like that? Oh, how terrible their friends and family were visiting less and less. Their house was becoming a shambles. This just made me angry. I'm not a scientist but I certainly am aware of my obligation to another being that I have made dependent on me.

Aug. 06 2017 05:30 PM
Sherry from Saranac Lake, NY

Cried when I heard a part of the story on the radio today, assuming I knew what the whole was about. Then seeing a picture of Lucy here, well, that was the limit. After traveling in Africa across 6 countries I can no longer visit zoos. I know they have a conservation goal, but there must be a better way. Not sure that "infant adoption" is the answer either, as illustrated by this heartbreaking story. While I adore my dog & attend to his needs I sometimes wonder if his quality of life is adequate too...he communicates without words. Still, I wonder.

Aug. 06 2017 01:21 PM
Penny from Maryland, USA

Thank God for Janice! Your work and compassion is so important. Best wishes to you.

Aug. 06 2017 12:48 PM
Kathy from Ashland VA

Happy Birthday, Robert! I wish today's episode was more lighthearted and celebratory in honor of your latest trip around the Sun, but an important and wonderfully crafted episode nonetheless. Thanks, Radiolab.

Aug. 05 2017 08:28 PM

I would like to know what creature with teeth Kanzi was pointing at in the pit. Did I just miss hearing it on the program or was it not revealed?

Aug. 05 2017 04:54 PM
Hyacinth from New Orleans

Come ON - this is at least the third time I've heard Lucy's story on Radiolab. How many more times are you going to make us miserable? New content, please - hopefully that doesn't revel in cruelty to animals, be they highly sentient like Lucy or otherwise.

Aug. 05 2017 03:13 PM
Alvaro G. Quesada from Madison, USA

Let me be clear from the beginning. The story about Lucy the Chimpanzee made me feel nauseated and disgusted at how far some humans are willing to go to prove a point that has been already tried, and again we find ourselves in complete failure. Leave these animals alone, in Peace, and let them be amongst their own species for God's sake.
Rest in peace Lucy, you didn't do anything wrong.

Aug. 04 2017 10:46 PM
Renee from Vacaville, CA

There is little I can add that others haven't already said. I listened to the entire segment on Lucy yesterday. My heart BROKE for this intelligent, sentient animal. Humans can be so cruel and ego-centered . . . as though we are somehow "superior" to other species. Very, very sad and depressing story.

Aug. 03 2017 12:31 PM
Barbara Wagner Meistas from Northern California

I listened with interest and emotion today from Northern California. The bond between humans and animals is mystical and real. I can honestly look to Francis of Assisi and his fantastic poetry where he sincerely knows to address "our sister Mother Earth" and all the animals and creatures as sisters and brothers. I empathize with the scientists attempts to re-immerse the creatures, and I sympathize with those animals whose demise may have been terriblely unnatural. We are meant to be good stewards, yet we are curious creatures, too! Peace.

Aug. 02 2017 07:28 PM

dodo da ro do do toro.... and am charging my attack

Dec. 01 2015 10:12 PM

Its been 3 days since I've heard the Lucy broadcast and I'm still feeling emotional. What an absolutely dreadful example of human behavior... But an excellent one of our ignorance. I do hope that this story can help educate us homo sapiens to understand the harm that we can bring to animals by interfering with them. My heart is broken for Lucy and for all the other creatures that have experienced something similar.

I do agree with the comment below that best not to buy the book from these people....unless they plan on sending all of the profits to Janis to support her park reserve in Gambia.

Aug. 25 2015 12:36 PM
ed from Merrimack NH

Sorry this story reminded me of people on UFO's

Aug. 24 2015 08:01 PM
Joyce Adams from New york

I heard this program a year ago and was thoroughly disgusted by its content. Two psychologists used this primate, Lucy, for their experiment about raising a chimpanzee in their home. When she became too difficult to handle, they placed on an island with other chimps where she had none of the survival skills that she needed to live with the other chimps who were raised in the wild. This was so cruel and she was probably killed in her attempt to get by. Already depressed by the abandonment, she still made an attempt to get along. When the other chimps were using all four extremities to move around, Luce was standing on her two legs. These psychologists should not be given a platform to describe their failed experiment. Please don't buy the book they are trying to peddle on NPR. They should not be rewarded for their cruel behaviors.

Aug. 24 2015 05:02 PM

Virtually all "evidence" that apes are using language involve a massive amount of "interpreting" by the human researcher. In this case, we could clearly hear a bonobo making undifferentiated screeching sounds, and a human saying, Oh, you want us to look there? (screech) Is it scary? (screech) Does it have legs? (screech). This still seems to be no different than the "Clever Hans Effect," in which the researcher is cueing, or anthropomorphizing, or imagining. It reminds me of old Lassie shows, in which the dog runs for help and with her barks and body language, leads the family to Timmy, down int the well. IF there is actual language-like behavior going on here, they certainly did not present any evidence of it in this bit of tape. The guy squeaking out words that he *claims* are what he hears from the animals is laughable. I have seen real evidence of a Border Collie who can understand and respond to something like a thousand words, and of African Grey parrots who can speak understandable and apparently meaningful sentences. But this case--sorry, I don't see anything there.

Aug. 23 2015 08:12 PM
anita from ontario, Canada

You have so much feedback, what can I add?? I can only say that the Temerlins were so cruel, selfish and arrogant through this whole deal just to prove their point. I think they deserve to be horsewhipped! For two professionals they are certainly not very smart. i hope if there is a book written about this that it doesn't sell. Such a sad story.

Aug. 23 2015 07:15 PM
VIOLET from B.C.

A horrible story! All are to blame in the demise of this innocent chimp. Human beings are the dumbest creatures alive.

Aug. 23 2015 06:45 PM
jmp from Colorado

You know I listened to all the stories, fascinated at first and then appalled and made me sick to my stomach. The fact that chimpanzee's are smart and what Lucy learned was good, but to adopt her and treat her as human and NOT try to connect her to other chimpanzee's they believe led to her demise. They should NEVER have treated as humans. Humanely yes, but first Lucy should never have become the surrogate "child" for this Dr. family. That is what lead to her possibly "befriending" the people on the island who treated her so cruelly. Listening to how long Susan tried to reintroduce her to the "wild" made me weep for undoing...being raised by humans as if she were human. No matter the "good" intentions the "heartwarming" pictures they deprived her of her natural instincts to hunt and be a chimpanzee. I don't care how much they learned Lucy well that was CRUELTY TO ANIMALS.

Aug. 23 2015 05:58 PM
Ingrid Fraser from Newfoundland Canda

I just heard the Lucy's story on CBC. What a beautifuly constructed story with an end that has me in tears. No surprise there. I am very pleased that our public broadcaster has had the wisdom to pick up RadioLab. Too bad it no longer has to wisdom to put money into original Canadian documentaries. (Though even if it did, I'd still want RadioLab on our airwaves.) You guys do great work.

Aug. 23 2015 01:52 PM
gi from mid-atlantic

Another sad tale of humans overstepping their authority and ruining lives along the way. Why we persist as a species is beyond me. Poor Lucy.

Aug. 23 2015 01:51 PM
Mary A

What a tragic story. All animals are such precious souls of nature, and humans unfortunately have so much power and control over them. God help them.

Aug. 22 2015 06:52 PM

What a tremendously moving piece. So many questions, so little time. Thank you for the experience. I am sharing this with my family.

Aug. 22 2015 06:02 PM
Bill D from Mount Airy, MD

This is the first time I have heard this story. This is the reason I listen to and support public radio. There is nowhere else you can hear something like this.
There is a lot of bad in this world so I should be numb to it, but I couldn't help but weep.
Janise was the cause of Lucy's tragedy, but she was heroic to try to help her in the end. She must have been emotionally devastated knowing that nothing she would do would really make things right for Lucy. The photo of her and Lucy hugging will haunt me.

Aug. 22 2015 02:14 PM
Julie from Montreal

I am relieved to read all the other comments about how disgusting and horrific this experiment was. I thought it was just me. I had to pull over while driving and I broke into tears. Sobbing. I couldn't stand the cruelty and plain stupidity and senselessness of the Temerlins. Why on earth would they ever think that sending Lucy back into the wild would be a good solution? The issue of attachment the story brings up is heartbreaking and I find it incredible (in the worst possible way) that anyone would be able to persevere for a year (!) in trying to get this chimp to leave and join the others. At one point, after a few weeks or months, don't you begin to consider other alternatives? Doesn't you sense of empathy kick in and tell you this strategy just isn't working?
I have to say that most days I feel optimistic about the world, but this story brought me down. I feel devastated.

Aug. 22 2015 09:16 AM
David Issar from Vancouver

I was very sad to here the ending to Lucy's incredible life. What a compassionate and loving story.
Jane and her fellow scientist's story is a real testament to us all, and teaches us humans that we are not the center of this planet, and it not simply for our consumption.... we are sharing an experience with all other animals together.... Lucy proves the compassion and love is within all living beings.

Aug. 21 2015 05:40 PM
Genie from Montreal

I listened to this as I was driving and ended up crying and feeling so sad. I feel so sad for Lucy and all the primates being used by humans to learn and advance science. I was driving by McGill University in Montreal and remember a student there telling me they used chimps. Its so disgusting and terribly sad.

Aug. 21 2015 04:59 PM
S Lindeburg from Calgary

What an absolutely disgusting horrifying revolting appalling show this was. Did the person telling this story not once consider what a terrible thing was done to this animal and challenge these horrible people on what they had done? That horrible happy little music in the background was a macabre touch - the story teller is a complete failure here.

These people STOLE this baby from her mother - they DRUGGED her and STOLE her child. Appalling and disgusting - they killed her as surely as if they had shot and skinned her themselves.

Aug. 21 2015 03:48 PM
Stephanie from USA

Those people need to rot in hell for what they did to this amazing, intelligent being. The worst of human nature in action, thinking the only way is the human way. That the only form of intelligence is human intelligence. I really hope as a species we regain our ability to live with nature and find it in ourselves to empathize with other beings or we will be lost. What a tragic story, pulling this being as far from her nature as possible, making sure she'd forget how to be a chimp and then dumping her and expecting her to survive! I can't imagine what she thought when she was killed by the humans she was taught to love so. RIP little Lucy and I'm sorry for what they did to you.

Nov. 11 2014 12:39 AM
Lee MacKay from Texas

I too was amazed and deeply saddened by Lucy's story. Perhaps all the humans involved should have stopped to think that they were completely and utterly altering this beings existence forever and accepted that they would need to be there for her entire life instead of bringing her so close to humans and then abandoning her to become wild. They took that out of her from the start! They needed to be there for her!!

Aug. 14 2014 12:14 AM
K.C. Engdahl from Omaha, Nebraska USSRA

The simple truth is an always will be that we are all just animals. We can hope for more and work to gain it but no lesson resonates with greater clarity than that which is learned in consequence of a mistake. If there were are are errors or mistakes associated with Lucy's passage they are no more egregious than those we make individually on a day to day basis. The sole difference would be the presentation of an opportunity to learn from something we did not know or knew but did not appreciate. Suggesting that the story should not be told is abhorrent to the process of transcendence that those who purport to know more so often urge. If we do not know of a mistake, or seek to be shielded from it, or worse, shield others, nothing prevents us from repeating it. To avoid "error" we have to cognate it. Think about it.The experience matters and is nobel purely for the act of having done it. The untold story is never forgotten. Sheesh.

Aug. 13 2014 02:23 PM
Mr Ralph Tamlyn from NY, USA

I regret feeling the need to be so blunt. It was outrageous and cruel to assimilate Lucy to live with humans and then toss her to the jungle.

Aug. 13 2014 09:41 AM

The people with the Bonobos at the end, what a bunch of bullshit that was. They are clearly anthropomorphizing these animals and following unsafe protocols that almost resulted in the death of on the researchers. Awful.
The Lucy story was of course touching but again human's interacting in unethical ways with animals, leading to the animal's death. Terrible.

Aug. 13 2014 01:24 AM
Joyce Doman from Pennsylvania

Wonderful piece. I have my own autographed copy of the adventures of the missing link. Professor Raymond Dart was a friend and colleague of my father Dr Robert j.Doman. Dart came over for dinned and told us stories of pygmies.

Aug. 12 2014 06:57 PM
elba from bergoton va

I love the story about Lucy. It was both sad and amazing.
What I have a question about is why is there a video on facebook of airfrance about monkeys going through chemical testing in a very torturous way. What can be done to stop this.

Aug. 12 2014 04:57 PM
Diane Benjamin from EVANSTON, IL

Lucy's story is absolutely heartbreaking, in all its aspects. I have listened to her story many times and every time I end up in tears. It is riveting radio, the kind that keeps me nailed to the driver's seat in my car.
Radio has played a significant part in all my 72 years. Growing up in Toronto, (Canada) I was mesmerized listening to Lorne Green read the 6:00 p.m. news on CKEY in that mellifluous baritone. When television entered the media fray I remained glued to the radio.
My addiction inspired me to become a print journalist. Several of my newspaper stories featured the escapades of monkeys and apes. My father, Dr. John N. Stratas, was a veterinarian, who introduced our family to animals of every species; in fact, a client abandoned a rhesus monkey at Dad's hospital."Percy" joined our menagerie and became a roommate to "Felix" our cat. So intense was their friendship that when Percy died, Felix mourned him until he too, died. Probably of a broken heart.
Thank you for Lucy's story.

Aug. 11 2014 12:50 AM
Sherry from Venice

The story of Lucy and the bonobos moved me greatly. The unethical treatment of Lucy, not withstanding, both stories taken together drove home to me the interconnectedness of our species, the inner souls of all creatures, and the innate drive to communicate that we share. I found the programs humbling and revealing. Maybe, just maybe, the horror of what was a done to Lucy and the truths that these experiments reveal will sensitize the humans who hear these stories to take actions which lead to justice for these other beings that share their lives with us on this planet.

Aug. 11 2014 12:45 AM
Mari from Palos Verdes

You don't raise an animal like your own then leave them on their own in the jungle.

Aug. 10 2014 07:48 PM
lowell baltz from KUFM radio

What is the title of the book mentioned on the program on Lucy?? The title had an exotic name that was hard to understand on the radio--when such words arise it would be helpful to spell them. Thank you

Aug. 10 2014 04:31 PM
Michelle from Bend, OR

Project Nim is a HBO documentary about primates raised by humans and the end results are always
tragic. Many listeners might want to sign a current circulating on-line petition for Ned H. Kalin, MD of
Wisconsin University beginning an approved study of 40 newborn rhesus monkeys. A repeat deprivation study
already done and published by sadistic Dr. Henry Harlow many years ago.

Aug. 10 2014 03:41 PM
Khadija from Texas

I love animals, I totally disagree with all this, and cannot believe they are still using them as science experiments, I can understand saving a baby due to a human killing the mother, why not place the baby in a place where it would learn more on how to be who they are supposed to be? why do humans always want to be in control, then when they are not able to control the situation, they throw it away, same thing happens to the wild cats.. how sad that Lucy learned nothing of survival and it sounds she died of a horrific death, what kind of protection is that? my heart goes out for the animals, I am sickened by how humans treat them, then wonder why they retaliate the way they do..

Aug. 10 2014 03:09 PM
Victoria Shields

This is one of the most disturbing cases of Homo Sapien arrogance I've ever heard. The cruelty inflicted on this creature in the name of science/psychology makes me feel sick. I'm disappointed you didn't highlight this aspect of the "experiment". Shame on those responsible for this atrocity.

Aug. 10 2014 02:42 PM
Kathy from Corvallis, OR

The very first thing these selfish a-hole Temerlins should be prosecuted for is kidnapping.

Aug. 10 2014 02:28 PM
Pam from New Jersey

Radiolab people, I notice that you chose not to post the comment that I sent you @ around 2 or 3 PM today. Will you please email me an explanation. I thought I was civil and on topic but maybe you thought otherwise. Exactly what did you object to?

Aug. 09 2014 07:56 PM

Lucy is a sentient being. These people stole her self-identity, and her captors wonder why she's pissed off? I have lived a free life. Most of my time has been spent outside in nature, with no one preaching to me. In my calmness, animals didn't find me a threat. To amazes me that educated people with degrees are the most naïve of all human beings. It's a shame that money controls what they say and do. They cannot tell the truth even if they found it.

Aug. 09 2014 06:29 PM
Nick from Manchester, NH

So listening to this story, my response is what the hell was wrong with this Dr. Temerlin and his wife that they took a chimp from her mother, raised her as their daughter, and dumped it off in the middle of the African jungle when she became too wild and rambunctious, and never looked back once. This really irks me. It also irks me about killer whales in captivity. My response is c'mon people, the animal has the word killer in its name for a reason! Maybe I am overreacting, but I don't think wild animals should be raised in captivity. Ever.

Aug. 09 2014 05:00 PM
Marsha from California

The end could have been written before the beginning. What arrogance and hubris!! We still have so much to learn about our own "humanness" before we have any right, if ever, to probe the lives of other animals. What a profound lack of respect and reverence for Lucy and her kind!!!

Aug. 09 2014 04:47 PM
Henrietta from Houston

I wonder how Lucy's mother felt when she woke up from being drugged and couldn't find her baby. Was that part of the experiment too, to see how she would react? The pictures of Lucy are precious and I see how wonderful she was; I know she was loved . . up to a point But animals are not ours to experiment on, in labs or anywhere else. I remember the day when my cat Janey was sitting on the chair up at the piano and I picked up her paw and put it on the keys and she slapped me in the face. I deserved it!

Aug. 09 2014 04:42 PM
kat collins

Hey,it's not all about you Dale. I have never heard this story before because I actually have to work most Saturdays and I thought it was beautiful. You are probably of the humans Lucy would have trusted but shouldn't have because as far as I can tell you lack compassion for the story of Lucy, an inability to evaluate our own condition by learning something from Lucy's story and difficulty with considering the thoughts and interests of your fellow human beings, let alone those of other species who lay without these perimeters. And besides, you can always learn something new from a great story like Lucy's, though it's obvious you never really learned anything from it the first time your heard it. Have a wonderful afternoon!

Aug. 09 2014 04:41 PM

I'm sick of this Lucy story, notwithstanding the fact that it's sickening, this is at least the third time you've aired it. Get new content or get off the air.

Aug. 09 2014 03:39 PM
Carol McCabe

Having dominion over animals. Does that mean we try to make them human?

Aug. 09 2014 01:19 PM
Jean Silvers from NYC

Lucy's story is one of human arrogance. Her end should serve as a tragic lesson that the only kind way to treat wild animals is to allow them remain where they belong: in their natural habitat. Keeping wild animals at home and then, because they have grown too strong, too expensive or simply because we're tired of our "experiment," sending them back into the wild when they can no longer cope independently is simply another form of animal cruelty.

Aug. 09 2014 12:54 PM
Adrienne from New York City

I'm listening to the story of Lucy again as I write this and I have goosebumps on my arms and a lump in my throat. I have heard this story several times -- when it was first broadcast on your show, then when This American Life played it and again when I played it for my niece and nephew -- because I was so profoundly affected by it. I'd like to think that anyone who hears this will find (or rediscover) deep empathy for the animals with whom we share this planet. That would mean we wouldn't use them for our entertainment, experiments, food, clothing and other things humans make. Of all the Radiolab episodes -- and I've heard them all! -- this is the one I want everyone to hear. Kudos to the team for telling such a fascinating and haunting story with sound alone.

Aug. 09 2014 12:38 PM
Susan C from New York

My whole career has been focused on human vulnerability and suffering. I was returning from a group I facilitate and listened to this story on radio lab. I had tears streaming down my face as I entered the story of Lucy and the narrator. My heart is broken. Though I am not religious our dogs (Ignacio aka Iggy), (Loyola aka Lola)-both named after Spanish Saint ...Ignatius Loyola..patron saint of the poor and all living things...inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, are our family. After losing Iggy last year, and still grieving, call it projection, but the story of Lucy's death and the treatment of animals by humans, brings me to my knees. I am heartbroken after hearing this story. RIP Lucy and hopefully your story will touch people on the co-existence and unnecessary overpopulation of humans on a planet where animals and humans are increasingly competing for space.

I wish everyone could open their hearts to this story.

Aug. 07 2014 10:42 PM
Anya from Ventura, CA

This was a great story. Thank you for doing a piece on it.

Aug. 07 2014 07:43 PM
Audrey Chung

Human beings are so extremely cruel and selfish. I just cannot stop sobbing. Other species of animals are not mere playthings for mankind. There could not have been any other ending for poor Lucy, after what was done to her since the moment she was stolen from her mother. What an absolutely unforgivable and ludicrous experiment.

Aug. 07 2014 04:19 PM
Miriam English from Australia

I don't understand why we don't make simplified houses with the amenities these chimps have become used to. It wouldn't be hard. Sturdy emergency housing in refugee camps can be put up for very little money.

We are basically the same as the original humans who wandered around the African bush a couple of hundred thousand years ago, but none of us would like to be dumped in our "natural" habitat after living in houses all our lives.

Thank you, Radiolab, for this heart-rending story... and all the other fascinating, intelligently explored topics. You folks are amazing. You reach out and touch minds all over the planet. (I'm in Australia.)

Apr. 26 2014 04:06 AM
Chironjit from Malaysia

Thank you Radio Lab for such an enlightening show. I'd like to weigh in with my thoughts:

To all those that said there should be more empathy or sensitivity from the show's production team, i think this is a show on science and an episode on a specific chapter of primate research. I am a casual observer of science, and abhor most animal testing and also believe in co-existence. That said, it is not for the production team to weigh in on ethics, rather for the audience to form the opinion (which from the comments above shows some degree of success)

I believe the original experiment could have been done better but what was more sad was the amount of sleuthing the producers had to do. These pockets of learnings (however wrong) should not be lost in shame or neglect. It was heartening to learn the story of Janis, who, from her original 3 weeks planned stay did not leave at all.

The story of Kanzi, while still a study in captivity, was really enlightening in what was done incrementally better. It is unfortunate that a loss of a digit was required for such a learning but my respect to the investigator who came back despite that.

I'd like to express gratitude to all the researchers who have taken the effort to study these - towards hopefully a better coexistence.

Mar. 25 2014 12:51 AM
Helen from South Africa

Janice, I have to commend you on the care you took of Lucy after her parents abandoned her.... You are a brave woman with a heart bigger than I've ever heard of. Why don't more people know about this lady?

Mar. 24 2014 03:16 PM

Heartbroken. Nothing more to say.
Retire all research chimps to a sanctuary. Sign on to this petition.

Mar. 15 2013 12:53 PM

Come on Ron from Sacramento, I don't care if the bleeping poacher fed his family for a year. He had no right to take her life no matter what!! We sit and say "how sad" but when someone or some organization takes direct action all of you say they're "extremists". If you truly believe that these creatures possess these qualities then don't complain when someone has the clarity of vision and purpose to take direct action against these assholes that murder such intelligent and sentient EARTHLINGS !! It's time somebody stood up and took direct action (Poach the poachers), or these nations of Earthlings surely are going to disappear from this world. I'm about you ?...............A.R.M.

Mar. 12 2013 08:26 PM
Shannon Frye from Atlanta

I've listened to Radio Lab in the past, but after hearing this story, I had to come to your site. I've been an animal lover my entire life and have always felt that they (except for dogs and kitties:) belong in their native habitats. This story confirmed my beliefs. You all did a fantastic job on telling Lucy's sad story. I am now a fan.

Mar. 12 2013 06:15 PM

I just listened to your wonderful show. I do enjoy it very much but today's show about Lucy was really special. I just spent 3 months watching a live web cam from Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden Chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa and the beautiful Nina a rescued chimp that gave birth a month 1/2 ago. You show today brought me to tears but at least Lucy got to spend the last years of her life free with her own kind. Keep up the good work

Mar. 12 2013 02:06 PM
LeAnne Nichol

What a story ... it will stay with me for life.

Mar. 11 2013 08:09 PM

It was cruel to take Lucy from her mother. I am so tired of humans playing god with the lives of other life forms on this planet. We as humans need to re-evaluate our actions toward other species and really take a hard look at how we treat Mother Earth and her creatures! For the sake of all this technology and "convenience", humans are hurting the land and the beautiful creatures who live around us. We are not superior to them!! How intelligent can we be if we pollute our living enviroment, and create genetically modified food...the list is long!!!! Lucy is a sad tale and it should have never happened.

Mar. 11 2013 07:42 PM
Jessica Sheinbaum from Tacoma, WA

This story is heart-wrenching. I sob every time I hear the part where Lucy hugs Janis, or when I look at the photo. One thing I cannot understand is why everyone was so insistent on making those chimps assimilate into nature? Why didn't they create a special place for the chimps who were raised as 'humans'? It is so devastating and sad on so many levels. I also just don't understand how the Temerlins could walk away from Lucy after that kind of relationship with her, and for so many years. It makes no sense. I can't stop thinking about this show....

Mar. 11 2013 07:36 PM

I do not think it is a good idea for humans to take animals out of their natural habitat and attempt to make them behave as humans and entertain us.. It is cruel and extremely selfish! I do realize that Lucy was adopted. For all this crazy technology, we are disrespecting other life forms that live here. We need to re-evaluate ourselves and our actions. Humans are already doing much destruction in this world by destroying the forests, bodies of water, and a hosts of other non-caring acts that show no concern for the other life forms that live on Mother Earth. This story is a sad tale.

Mar. 11 2013 07:15 PM
David Justian from Muskegon

Lucy's story must be told so that we can understand what not to do. Thanks to the family who raised Lucy and to Janis Carter for educating us about the fact that our kindness towards animals can have unintended results and that the best kindness is to let animals be animals.

Mar. 11 2013 11:35 AM
Linda from Indianapolis

I forgot I heard this story a couple years ago on This American Life, and had forgotten the ending re Lucy's death.

This is as bad as when I heard the story about how the US used dogs to blow up bunkers in WWII.

The awful things humans do to animals, how can we ever expect them to forgive us, when we were put here to take care of them.

Mar. 11 2013 10:42 AM
varun from india

did Lucy ever ask a question? I was watching Vsauce on youtube yesterday, and he said that so far no animal has ever asked a question.

Mar. 11 2013 08:03 AM
Elena Rivera

Janice is fucked and so were Lucy's "parents". They killed Lucy.

Mar. 11 2013 02:55 AM

This story will stay with me forever... I will never forget Lucy and the people that were involved with her, for better or worse. She is a testament to the ways in which mankind has harmed one another and our wonderful natural world. All is not lost, though. I believe we still have hope. I'm so sad for the suffering that occurs in this life for so many living creatures. I am so amazed by Janice. She shows what love really means, and the true compassion that we need to have toward animals. Intelligence is a gift but a curse as well if we don't use it correctly. The misuse and exploitation of this beautiful world has caused so much grief and suffering. This has inspired me more than I can express. Thank you for wonderful and touching work.

Mar. 11 2013 12:20 AM

Humans see themselves as separate from the other species, as apart from the natural world. As the end-point of evolution. In fact we're an aberration, a mutation perhaps. The suffering we cause each other would be bad enough, but we are taking the rest of the living planet with us into oblivion. And the suffering we cause to other sentient beings, to all the other species, is unbearable. I've grieved my entire lifetime for this.

We who care about the other species on this planet MUST put our pain into energy, into action. The balance has to shift AGAINST the many humans who are causing animal suffering and extinction; and those who look the other way or are ignorant must be awakened. Tell people these truths they don't want to know! Sentient beings are suffering. People don't even know what goes on everyday behind lab doors, in military experiments, in roadside "zoos," in Barnum & Bailey, and on and on. And in other countries--elephants still slaughtered for their tusks, we're losing them from the planet. Rhinos almost gone. Gorillas. Whales and dolphins still slaughtered. And yes, the smaller beings too, size makes no difference. Ducks with metal tubes down their throats being force-fed. Calves confined to crates so small they can't move. Mice given human diseases.

Do one thing at a time. Buy something cruelty-free. Send money to an organization--one that takes action. Write letters. Enter a career where you can make a difference. Move somewhere and get involved hands-on. Remember Lucy.

Mar. 10 2013 03:03 PM

The Institute for Primate Studies at OU actually owned Lucy and planned to send her with the other primates in the experiment to a sanctuary in New York. But the "sanctuary" included cages in which the animals would live. The Temerlins did not want that for Lucy but also were having difficulty with her at home. In their defense, they hoped she could be taught to live in the wild and imagined that she would be happiest there.

Also, there was an assumption that the Temerlins didn't have children but I vaguely recall that they did.

Mar. 10 2013 11:15 AM
JonG from Portland, Or

I will forever be haunted by Lucy's death. That she was found by Janice's cage confirms the worst possible outcome. Her last moments would have been awful. She liked people, and probably greeted the "new ones" happily. She gave them her trust. They gave her fear, pain, and death. A beautiful chimp, alone, her last moments by her friends cage, helpless. It's an image I will never overcome. I am ashamed to be a human.

We launch them into space. We cage them in zoos for our amusement. We cut them open to see how experimental drugs effect their bodies. In the end, all we have learned is how incredible arrogant and mean we are.

I'll be sending a check to Jane Goodall tonight.

Mar. 10 2013 03:46 AM

this is why I could never be the type of scientist who uses animals.

Mar. 10 2013 12:32 AM
cheryl from burlington, vt

Hours after hearing Lucy's sad story, I am still sickened by this tragedy which unfolded decades ago. We are stewards of this beautiful planet and we must be the voice for those who can't speak for themselves. I can only seek comfort in taking action and fighting to make things better, otherwise the sheer horror of what we, as humans, do to our fellow creatures would make me lose my mind. Don't let Lucy's life and death be in vain, pls fight to save what precious and wild beauty is left - on the land, in the sea, in the air.

Mar. 09 2013 11:36 PM

What a heart-crushing story. Agree with so many of the comments below condeming this type of "science". I had to cry in the parking lot during much of it.

I want to know what happened to the remaining chimps on that island - did Janice continue to monitor them, did they ever breed, did more die at the hands of poachers? It seemed that Janice clearly did not agree with what Lucy's adoptive family did to her, but I wished they had interviewed her about that. I know this happened in the 60's and 70's but is it now accepted as heartless and cruel practice and therefore prohibited?

Mar. 09 2013 10:20 PM

Comment count at 371 today, & largely express what I felt when I heard the show, so will try to be short. Just to add my voice to the majority... horrified by what happened to Lucy. How these folks even formed the words "loved her like a daughter" is beyond me given what they did with her when they were at a loss to care for her any longer. A disposable daughter perhaps? Abandoning her was criminal IMO. dear God, I'm glad she had Sue as long as she did, but how I wish they'd have accepted a zoo as an alternative to leaving her out there. This story is going to take me a while to digest. Ouch.

Mar. 09 2013 09:38 PM
SUSAN ORMONT from Chestnut Hill, MA

I see no difference between this science experiment with Lucy and testing lab rats. This poor innocent and trusting animal was subjected to human self-indulgence and insensitivity, and nothing in the end was of Benefit to Lucy. The expectation that Lucy could re-adapt to her natural environment when they finished with her, was not guaranteed or even logical. No matter what these supposed scientists would do to help Lucy change back to being a chimpanzee, they were forcing Lucy into major unnatural behavior modifications with no ability for Lucy to get guidance from her fellow chimps. This is over-the-top abuse of the innocence and trust of animals. What is next? Humans raising an alien baby? I cringe!

Mar. 09 2013 05:26 PM
Susan Gold from Manzanita

Today the Sun is shining so brightly. Nice on a Saturday when all seems peaceful on the Planet. Well,those were my feelings until I sat down on my comfy chair with my two dogs and we, all three listened to the story about LUCY.

The couple who couldn't or didn't want real human children: I feel so sorry for them in more ways than one. Mostly, I hope they are tortured with guilt and misery for the rest of their lives for their rotten selfishness. God did not put Lucy on this earth for them to decide a death for her before even giving her a life of *oh, there isn't even a word for what I think they are guilty of*.

What goes around, comes around.

Sleep well Lucy. So many people love you, your soul and the message you carry for all of us to remember. (Except probably the nut jobsd who did this awful thing to you. I'm speaking of your adoptive human sicko parents.

To the woman who cared for you and loved you totally, until the end, you qre amazing.Thanks for your bravery, too.

Mar. 09 2013 05:14 PM

Oh, I am speechless. Coexistence is the answer. We should never try to raise these four leggeds as humans. I cry as I write this, after listening to this on NPR a bit ago. A deeply moving story--again I am speechless and full of sorrow for Lucy..

Mar. 09 2013 05:11 PM
Kate from Petaluma, CA

This story touched me in so many ways. The compassion for Lucy and the other chimps that Janice lived all those seconds, minutes, days and years is an amazing lesson to all of us. Incredible story from beginning to end. Thank you so much.

Mar. 09 2013 05:09 PM

I gave up on this program a few months ago after multiple disappointments, and one particularly abysmal show in which the host was incredibly insensitive. I tuned in again today and once again found the show repulsive. Why not examine the ethics of this tragedy? Why not dig deeper into the questions it raises? If the show were to abandon it's incredibly annoying jumpy, artificially folksy style for one that permitted more substantive content, then I might consider tuning back in. I'm not convinced, though, that the content producers and hosts of this show are capable of anything more.

Mar. 09 2013 05:04 PM

I will never condemn love. We can learn from Lucy - how to trust, love and let go, and how to rebuild our lives after our future is not as expected. As sad as this story is, the beauty contained within is worth a thousand tears. Ann in Wisconsin

Mar. 09 2013 04:50 PM
Barbara Gaudreau from massachusetts

Those people were cruel.....Lucy deserved a better life. I think thank god for Janis,because at least she tried. They should have been prosecuted.

Mar. 09 2013 04:22 PM

Janis is a saint.

Mar. 09 2013 04:07 PM
wayfarer from U.S.

As I grow older, I become more aware of the senseless
violence we humans perpetrate. Whether this violence is
committed through ignorance, greed, or sheer evil is hard to say.
For example, a few years ago I witnessed two dogs being purposely
run over by callous human beings. Unfortunately, other such acts are easily remembered by most of us. What happened to Lucy is part of the same
horror, and made me think once again: we humans will have a lot
to answer for if there is an afterlife that includes any kind of moral
reckoning. Until then, we should be thankful that most wild animals
fear, rather than come to love, human beings. What a pity life can be.

Mar. 09 2013 04:03 PM
Camryn Lee from Brush Praire, WA

As a biologist, I don't see how you could do something so unethical and cruel as to raise Lucy and then leave her after more than a decade of human love, contact and a sense of HOME. Of course she was depressed, left alone, abandoned. How could you do something like that and NOT provide some form of protection for her? The whole story made me cry because of how unfair, how senseless it is that the animal ALWAYS loses in these situations. you sacrificed your own 'daughter" to be slaughtered, murdered. No doubt you feel badly about this, but really, what did you expect? The ONLY place she could have been safe would be in a top notch zoo where she would be fed and cared for. It made me moan with pain at the thought of this loving, trusting, deeply emotional chimp, Lucy, extending her hand to welcome a poacher. She had nothing in her heart, but LOVE. Her innocence was betrayed by YOU as much as by the poacher. In fact yours was worse, you called her your 'daughter"? All biologist know that it is nearly impossible to reintroduce into the wild and you just left her there? You didn't take the time or energy to transition her. No 'soft' release. You didn't let her camp outside at your home with you, you threw her into a hopeless life alone, betrayed by you after all her years loving you as her parents. I am so disgusted by your story, it shows your selfishness, not love. I am ashamed that you called yourself a biologist. You sacrificed your 'child' so that some horrible human could skin her , remove her hands, and this heartless assault was the polar opposite of what Lucy envisioned. What crueler future could you possibly have imagined. I can think of nothing worse than this primate holocaust. You deserve to be in court to be held accountable for what YOU CAUSED. This story broke my heart for the kind, sweet, innocent Lucy, she was just being a chimp, and YOU were the one's who tried to force her into YOUR world. She was the most innocent and you are so guilty. I don't know how you can live with yourselves. SHAME on you, it was Lucy's assistant who stayed on with her, not you. Apparently you are shallow and her depth was greater than yours. If you could travel the world, searchng for a place, why couldn't you have built a wonderful enormous enclosure and made a sanctuary for other chimps, a sanctuary that was of the quality you wanted to find. You could have done it if you devoted yourself to correcting your hideous error. You make me ashamed of humankind.

Mar. 09 2013 03:59 PM
Hyla Picta

Thanks for running this, we never heard it before. it is a very poignant story, perhaps a cautionary tale.

Mar. 09 2013 03:46 PM

Enough about Lucy already! You've already used her in a previous segment, plus This American Life did a long segment about her. NPR listeners are treated to this tragic story multiple times over. You're starting to cannibalize each other's content.

Mar. 09 2013 03:14 PM

The callous cruelty of removing a baby from its sleeping mother, with no thought as to the agony that mother would experience upon waking to find her child gone, highlights the inhumanity of these pseudo scientists from the outset of this project. The abuse and cruelty continued for years, culminating in an unfair death for a creature treated unfairly from birth. Jane and Roger are less human than the creature they tortured.

Mar. 09 2013 02:57 PM
John Albert from Westfield Massachusetts US

when Janice wouldn't make eye contact with Lucy. Lucy use the sign for hurt.... that one thing I know the whole story more than anything made me cry.. god bless Janice for doing the best she could with what she had it's unfortunate there were not more professionals involved

Mar. 09 2013 02:53 PM
Aileen from Fort Collins, CO

The tale of Lucy is an inspiration to me. Herard it on the way to work. Cried pretty hard inside and out. What people that take lives human or not will never be forgiven and never be forgot. Godspeed Lucy.

Mar. 09 2013 02:44 PM
Kota from North Dakota

The lump in my throat is huge. I'm amazed the planet hasn't shaken us off yet out of disgust for our regard for her treasures.

Mar. 09 2013 01:46 PM
Robert from Michigan

Very moving story. Journalism the way it was meant to be.

Mar. 09 2013 01:17 PM

I just finished listening to the broadcast and all the time wondered how these people could have, drugged the mother and selfishly removed Lucy to then manage her in their own image? It is cruel and self serving. How could they not have envisioned the horrible end to Lucy's life? It's a great and very disturbing story.

Mar. 09 2013 01:08 PM
RMC from NYC

I cried while listening to the end of this story. As soon as I heard that the family planned to release Lucy into the wild, I thought, "Oh no -- poachers -- she's not afraid of humans, and she'll approach them." That is exactly what occurred. Poor Lucy, raised by humans was ill-equipped for the wild. Moreover, so clear that she loved Janet and the family who raised her and did not understand why she was being abandoned.

How dumb are we human beings? We think that it would be cool to raise a wild animal as a human child and then, when the animal is an adult, we give up on him or her because he or she can't adapt to our human lifestyle. Meanwhile, the poor animal sees us as his family and -- like Lucy -- feels abandoned and is poorly adapted when "returned to the wild." How anthropocentric of us to believe first, that animals and people and, secondly, that animals do not have feelings or become attached to the culture in which they are raised.

I feel so grieved at what happened to Lucy. She deserved better; she loved and didn't exploit. She was exploited, both by being raised by humans to be human, which she was not, and then being dumped when she could not adapt as an adult. I know that Janet meant well and loved Lucy, but the best outcome for Lucy, once she'd been raised by human beings, would have been to allow her to remain in a mixed-species environment. Leaving her on the island was a tragic mistake.

Mar. 09 2013 12:59 PM
Carol from Bronx, NY

I can't believe how many people responded to this story. Shows how strongly people react to the selfishness of otheres who think they own the universe and all that lives in it. Shame on them!

Mar. 09 2013 12:51 PM
Suzie from New York, NY

Interesting story. I am surprised that the "parents" of Lucy, being educated people, didn't foresee that it would end in disaster. It was rather irresponsible of them to inflict what was ultimately cruelty on that poor creature. I don't think Janis deserves blame, though. She tried to make the best of a bad situation, and actually stayed in Gambia?! For years!? ... when that was never her intention! And lived in a cage on a deserted island!? I don't know anybody who would make a sacrifice like that (myself included). I give her a lot of credit.

Mar. 09 2013 12:50 PM
Huston from Fort Lauderdale

Tragic story. How could you have abandoned your child? You're no more ethical than neighbors who move and leave the cat behind.

Mar. 09 2013 12:47 PM
safarisue from New York

Why do people love violence so much?? Doesn't make sense.
The woman was so heroic. Thanks.

Mar. 09 2013 12:43 PM

this entire episode is about one of the most criminal acts in USA science. what was done to her was soulless. ideologically driven, dogmatic, mindless heartless merciless and dumb, and the chimp had more brains better ethics more heart and more decency than anybody and everybody in the story. god bless her.

Mar. 09 2013 12:51 AM

Sometimes I am ashamed to be a human being. How much better off would the world be without us?

Mar. 08 2013 10:46 PM

These are the same kind of people who drop of dogs and cats on farm lanes and expect them to flourish in the wild. Only scientists who need to publish academic papers need to prove experimentally what anyone who lives with animals know: they feel emotion, are intelligent, and form lasting attachments. The scientists who "raised" Lucy need to think hard about what they did, and why. Unconscionable. I hope they are profoundly embarrassed and have nightmares about her death.

Mar. 08 2013 10:21 PM
Bill from Sacramento

i can't remember feeling so sad as I was today after listening to the conclusion of the Lucy story, After a while I got angry but then I realized I have no idea what the people are like in Gambia. Maybe Lucy's death enabled the poacher and his family to have food for a week, At any rate it would have probably not happened if she had never been "hunmanized" in the first place.

Mar. 08 2013 09:49 PM
Erin Ely

wow, I just heard the story of Lucy, I'm devastated by it.... what is the matter with people... this is heartbreaking.

Mar. 07 2013 10:34 PM

I just heard the story of Lucy and wish I hadn't. I will be struggling for a long time with the feelings of bitterness and disgust and hatred I feel for the people who caused her great suffering and death (and I don't mean the poachers). What a black mark for "science."

Mar. 07 2013 09:40 PM

These so-called 'scientists' should be held on TRIAL for MURDER and animal cruelty.

This 'experiment' was nothing but an effort to fulfill their own egotistical selfish notions. They didn't care one hair about Lucy, they USED her to fulfill their own agenda.

There is enough literature circulating to know in what ways chimpanzees behave once mature and that coexisting within a civilized humanistic lifestyle is not conducive for either human or chimpanzee.

In addition, any psychologist, social worker, scientist, etc. would have the common sense to know Lucy's adaptation to a wild setting would be virtually impossible and traumatizing given her upbringing. But this was all part of the 'experiment'.

They thought abandoning their "daughter" in the wild was the best case scenario? Really? The same 'daughter' who comforted them when they were sick, made tea for their guests?, etc. This outrages me. This is just so disgusting, and the epitome of what is wrong with our species and what makes us, for lack of a better word, evil. If they really thought of Lucy as their daughter, if they really had her best interests at heart, they would not have put her into the wild, OR they would have been the ones to stay with her to help her through the adaptation process, OR they would have removed her after it appeared the adaptation process was ill suited and traumatizing. They had so many alternatives to make this a better outcome. And it was so clear that this was not in Lucy's best interest. Instead, they essentially dumped her on to someone else. They thought it was a good idea to bring back Lucy's old human possessions??!!

Humans are the worst type of animal species -
I am appalled.

Dec. 07 2012 12:39 PM
Liz from Florida

I am devastated by this story. Just devastated. That poor poor creature.

Oct. 06 2012 05:12 PM
Milissa Glass

I was deeply moved by Lucy's story. I am so thankful she had Janice in the end as her human parents basically abandoned her. How dare they take her on as "an experiment" and then walk away. I think Janice did the best she least she tried for years to help Lucy and stayed with her. God bless you, Janice. This is a great example of why wild animals should not be brought into our homes. It's just not fair. That last picture haunts me.

Aug. 13 2012 05:09 PM

L have mixed feelings in regards to the story of Lucy, myself would of realized that the chimp would have a mental breakdown, she should have been housed around people and medicated like you would any PTS(post traumatic stress).

Jul. 19 2012 06:03 PM
K from DC

Deeply moved by this story. Wow!!!

Jul. 15 2012 07:29 PM

I thought it was incredibly cruel and unnecessary for Janis to return to the island a year later to show Lucy her mirror and other possessions. Did that Janis person honestly think it was best for Lucy to see these objects again? I feel like those actions were entirely selfish, and not in Lucy's best interest. And speaking of "not in Lucy's best interests": showing the poor animal human pornography? Really? The man who thought of himself as a human father to Lucy makes me sick, as does his wife.

Jul. 14 2012 08:36 PM
alleybear from t Jane

We're supposed to be civil and brief. This I will do. I find, in my humble opinion, that Jane is an objectionable person. I find the marketing of the image of the chimp looking at a Playgirl magazine objectionable. I find that, after raising her from a baby, and then getting a guilty conscience, releasing Lucy in the wild at a mature age objectionable. P.S. I find Janis taking mirrors and other objects from Lucy's previous life into the second life they forced Lucy into objectionable. I would say a lot more but then this wouldn't be brief.

Jul. 14 2012 03:36 AM
Jen from Incline Village, NV

Radiolab: Would it be possible to contact the entity that archives the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom videos to see if they can upload 'Chimps of Cambia Part 2' on YouTube or another website... or, ideally, onto your website to accompany this story. 'Chimps of Cambia Part I' shows the amazing Janis Carter at work with younger chimps prior to taking them to the island for release; and at the end of Part 1, they show a clip of Lucy with Janis, and say that in Part 2, the story of the release onto the island of both the younger chimps and some adult chimps, including Lucy, will be covered. THANK YOU!

Jul. 13 2012 02:04 PM
Hem from USA

Thanks for this heart wrenching story!
I have been crying for the last 3 hours after hearing it on the radio while driving, and then again after I got back home.

In that last photo of Lucy's hug, Lucy seems to be grieving (her left hand says so much). Its really sad she was pushed to adapt to the wild even though she couldn't even after a few years in Gambia, and she kept signing "hurt". She clearly couldn't be a part of the chimps group in the island.

Jul. 12 2012 02:31 AM

Amazing story !! Cried so much after about Lucy's death !!!

Jul. 12 2012 12:02 AM

This episode was amazing and appreciate the slide show. The photo of Lucy & Janis was more heartbreaking than I expected! I'm glad you told people to come check that photo online rather than try to explain it.

By the way, previous episodes made me check the L'Inconnue de La Seine as well. Radio can do only so much.

I'm really enjoying the stories because you dig through each topic until you find the 'aha' and you can hang your story on that node. The girl who drowned is resuscitated by thousands. It's all fine and good to humanize a chimp, but the crossing species has tragic results. The Bolero captivated two artists in different and identical ways.

Jul. 10 2012 09:09 AM
Howard Passell from New Mexico

White people used to think black people were not capable of human intelligence, emotion, etc. We are only now learning that chimps and other primates seem quite capable of intelligence and emotion. What about cows? If they have only a tenth the capability of chimps, is it okay to eat them?

Jul. 09 2012 12:05 AM
Tim Hughes

I found this episode both tragic and confirming.
Tragic in that Lucy was trapped between two worlds and was murdered (it appears) by human hands; confirming in that aninmals are more than animals. They have their intelligence, emotions and feelings. What we as humans see as "animal behavior" speaks really to more the mystery of life this story only begins to reveal.

Jul. 08 2012 09:30 PM
Ebeth from Fort Worth, Texas

After coming into Lucy's story in the middle of the broadcast, I was riveted and had to hear how Lucy's story ended. I was shocked and dismayed at what an unbelievably barbaric species we humans are. She died at the hands of the one species Lucy trusted more than her own, a human. How terribly tragic for her? It saddens me to think the human race has not evolved any in decades!! We are truly despicable!!

This story begs the question: Why do we continue to do experimentation on animals? NO animal deserves to be used as an experiment to further our own cause. What cause, really?!! To feel more superior?! And superior to what?!

The only thing I can say is thank goodness there are still people in this world like Janis Carter who is willing to put her own needs aside to help another animal. Thank you, Janis for the love and kindness you showed Lucy.

Jul. 08 2012 09:07 PM
Stephanie from Phoenix

Thanks for sharing this important story. It tells so much about our misconceptions about other species. I had heard Lucy's story before, but your program brought tears to my eyes. A compelling story well told!

Jul. 08 2012 08:39 PM
Ross from Phoenix

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The tragedy that resulted is unforgivable. Try this for a little perspective. Lets suppose Chimps were experimenting with humans, a human baby taken from it's mother on the second day of life and put into a chimps world like a jungle, raised to communicate and accept the culture of the wild only then to be dropped into New York city to accept and live in the culture it has never known. What would the result be? The chimp demonstrated extreme intelligence to be able adapt and live the life of a human, how do you think a Human baby would have done? So with that we call ourselves more evolved and civilized, but i am thinking that a Chimp would never subject a human to that sort of experimentation. right now I feel like they are most likely smarter more humane and probably have a better understanding of life and nature than the ignorant and arrogant species we have evolved into. I think it is obvious with the way things are going on this planet with over use without regard to sustainability that we as humans and all we come into contact with are basically doomed. And we call ourselves intelligent.

Jul. 08 2012 08:03 PM
Harry Kennedy

Animals, of all kinds are superior to humans. Dogs and cats ask so little of us, yet we give them so little. I guess this is oversimplifing the situation, but it's my opinion.

Jul. 08 2012 06:00 PM
Miriam S. from Florida

Various thoughts and reactions: I was angered by the way Lucy was kidnapped from her mother. These sorts of situations occured in a number of cases (aopes being raised as human, or taught human behasvior and communication) during the latter part of the twentieth century. They did not generally go well for the apes in the long run. The idea of taking this captive bred and human raised ape and expecting her to survive in a natural ape environment is outragious. We might as well abandone our own adolescent children in the wlderness and expect them to survive and be happy. However, wild and exotic species are still being imported, bred and sold as pets in the U.S. This includes various big cats, wolves, monkeys, and snakes. Just ask Jack Hanna. When the animal matures they almost always have to be relocated because they are still WILD ANIMALS! Wild animals were never intended to live by or with human beings. They are not human and cannot become human or even tame. The result is a very confused animal that can't live in the human world and can't live in it's own world either. Tragedy often results.

Jul. 08 2012 05:06 PM
Lisa from NYC

This is a terrible, shocking story. How difficult would it have been to find a more human, sensible solution to caring for a grown chimp who is part of a human family from birth than to embark on a horrendous experiment to take her 'back to the wild' as if she had ever learned to survive there. Why encourage learning and love between a chimp and humans, from birth, if the life of the adult chimp had not been really thought out at the beginning. Any WHY did not her owners take her away from Senegal, seeing the very deep trauma this was causing. Would one do this to a human child? After so many proofs of Lucy's ability to learn, to love and to enjoy her life with humans, this is a cruelty that his hard to fathom. She would have been better served in a zoo, where at least the zookeepers would have treated her with kindness. This is one, in a long line of appalling stories of humans using animals for interesting 'experiments' or investigations, which have brutal endings.

Jul. 08 2012 04:58 PM
Mark A. from NY

So sad. What's saddest is how she could have been kidnapped and then abandoned. Shows how committed we are as humans.

Jul. 08 2012 04:47 PM
Jammie M. from HPR 2

I also broke down crying. How can a "humane" human send a human-imprinted chimp into the wild? That's horrific abuse! That this chimp could do sign language implies a hard wiring of the brain to think like a human. To send this being "back" to where it's from and think that's the "right thing to do" is twisted-sick. I'm usually so uplifted by radio lab, this episode begs a soul search and a swift kick or a hard bite as it were. Science can be evil and heartless.

Jul. 08 2012 12:22 AM
Casey J from North Dakota

On the surface it became clear to me in listening to Lucy's story carried a significant message for my own life. I have had many pets. Dogs, mostly. All of them great friends. All of them taught me an important emotional and practical lesson about relationships and kindheartedness. As an adult, if I were given a chance to go back in time, to observe these remembered friends, most of them buried in the backyard next to the garden, and to play with them again, I ask myself after hearing of Lucy what real impact they had on me. Where do we begin and where do we end? I know that regardless of their humanity or their capability to love or feel emotion, the pets and animals I have known by name are cherished. I am deeply thankful that they exist for all of us to open our humanity and wonder what it is that binds life and the living together. In a world where humans have made a stage on which to dance and make a lot of noise, at least there is the certainty that nature will always afford an exception, allowing us to go deeper into our quest for that bond between all things. Janice's cage is an example of a step we all need to take to understand and to feel how the world effects us by looking through others' eyes.

Jul. 07 2012 10:23 PM
Babsylonia from Alaska

It isn't necessary to conduct these sort of experiments to learn how similar we are to other apes because we already know that we are not quite but almost identical in our DNA. Regardless of our ethics regarding non-ape species, that information alone should be enough to prevent us from engaging in these sort of inhumane experiments.

Let us not forget that we've learned much in the last 30 years regarding the emotional life of numerous species. Even with our house pets, if they are what is called a pack animal, we become their pack and if we leave them behind, give them away, abandon them, we break their hearts because they do not know where we went or why they were left behind. And what of birds who live long lives alone in cages with no other birds for companionship?

Finally, I suspect Lucy's final hug is remembered as it is by Janice Carter because she has to remember it that way in order to survive the emotional pain of leaving Lucy behind. As I look carefully at the photo, remember Janice Carter's description of the actual hug (so encompassing and intensely tight), and consider where Lucy's remains were found, it is more likely Lucy was not telling Carter everything was okay now, but rather, expressing deep grief as she was clinging to Carter for comfort.

Janice Carter must have known Lucy better than anyone else did, so perhaps her interpretation isn't entirely wrong. Perhaps there was resigned, sad forgiveness from Lucy there, but I highly doubt it was "everything is okay now" because Lucy's life was okay and she'd found her happy niche among her own species.

Lucy was not a member of the ape tribe she was expected to join. Lucy never had children. Lucy was not robust and healthy in the wild. Where is the evidence the other apes accepted her as one of them? Assuming other apes would just accept and integrate her because they were of the same species seems to me to be another example of human assumption, one that ignores the complexities of ape life with its communities and relationships, just as human life and our communities are complex.

It is wonderful that Janice Carter cared enough to work so hard at helping Lucy transition and for making Lucy feel someone still cared about her. It was a heartbreaking situation to find herself in. However, Lucy's remains were found where she last spent time with the only person connected to her entire life before she was abandoned in the wild. No doubt, Lucy spent a lot of time there. It makes the photo too heartbreaking for me.

Jul. 07 2012 09:00 PM
George from California

Check out Janis Carter:

Mutual of Omaha's Wild K... : Chimps of Cambia Part I

Jul. 07 2012 06:16 PM
Babsylonia from Alaska

My parents raised me in an isolated religious community until the age of 17 and then threw me out, leaving me behind in a different state across the country. Other than two, all of my relatives on both sides of my family abandoned me too because I was considered banished. As a young woman from a sheltered background, I was a walking target for the predators among us. Somehow, though, I survived and triumphed, but far too many young people in the same circumstances do not. Think of the homeless youth in our towns and cities. So their parents either cannot help them or they have abandoned them. Where are their uncles, aunts, grandparent, and cousins? I wonder how many of us hit with deep grief after hearing this story are feeling such anguish because it resonates with us; we experienced our own abandonment from our families? And we grew up and live in a culture that accepts it.

Jul. 07 2012 06:12 PM
Victoria G from Novato, CA

I was in my car today, with my dog, Bodhi, having just stopped to check the kittens available at the humane society. I watched them, enjoying and noting their different personalities, the way they wanted us people to look at them, play with them. Irresistible.
I turned on NPR to the middle of this story about a young woman and a chimp in the wild, I did not know the background then. It was so involving, the chimps devotion to the woman. I did burst into tears over the scientist leaving her, and then going back. Then over the obvious need and love that Lucy had for Janis. Love and what Lucy had known, (as I learned later) , bonding, meant more than "freedom" or being returned to her "kind". Her reunion with Janis so movingly portrayed. What cold, scientific betrayal. How could they not know wild chimps were no longer her kind or family? This is so very cruel, and yes, heartless. I went to the computer when I got home to see the photo, and when I read the whole story, I burst into tears again. What a heart Lucy had. I hope that she did adapt and like the other person said, was happy. I am sorry for her death at the hands of a human. It just seems so wrong. We now know how emotional animals are--this is not 100 years ago! I thought we had, and hope we have come further in our human kindness and compassion! I can't even see what I'm writing, through the tears. Amazing how Lucy's story has moved me.

Jul. 07 2012 05:59 PM
Lawson Meadows from Indiana

The picture of the "hug" is toward the end of the slide show above the comments! This was a sad story, and although I support research, I don't think this situation was handled well at all. Are we so arrogant in our ignorance that we place our courosity above the welfare of other beings?

Lawson Meadows

Jul. 07 2012 01:26 AM
isa kocher from kucukcekmece

as a linguist anthropologist these two individuals are required reading. nobody though related the horrendously unethical heartless soulless abuse of lucy, her mother, and the others ... i am so deeply profoundly grateful to Lucy and her profound spiritual witness. this is what religion is about that awareness is more than a mechanical sum of knowing. love is so much more important than smart. the cowardly academics who abandoned her are so far less intelligent than the adolescent chimp they so unconsciously misused. there is no punishment terrible enough for them: useless. they are essentially mindless. what was done to lucy is a perfect example of the mindlessness of what is called sin.

Lucy on the other hand and Kanzi show real spiritual courage that we can learn from.

i can't believe the degree of heartlessness and mindlessness and shameless selfishness they inflicted on lucy's life.

Apr. 07 2012 05:09 PM

A heartrending story, but regrettably not a surprising end - I hope Lucy's final moments were as Janis hopes, simply caused by a surprised fisherman -versus someone who intentionally destroyed her love and beauty for the purpose of taking her apart and selling to the highest bidder. I started listening and could not leave my car, even after the epilogue; the pain was palpable, all these years later. Lucy was obviously a beautiful spirit; how could she not be when she could give love and forgiveness with that special final hug! I don't know whether her life with the travelling show she had been born into would have been better, longer, or happier; I only hope that for the 10 years she was with her human parents she felt loved and happy. And I hope for the time when she finally was able to make peace with her new home and situation, that she was also happy. And finally, I hope she is both happy and at peace now. Janis, thank you for loving her enough to try to give her a new life and eventual happiness in the Gambia. We out here who listened to Lucy's and your story are indebted to you for that.

Mar. 31 2012 07:57 PM
RSS from Gearhart, OR

This was such a touching, tragic story. I lost it at the end, when Lucy was found skinned and missing her feet and hands. While I understand the desire for understanding that was behind this experiment, the moral and ethical implications are hard to reconcile. It left me with a deep resentment for the scientist, who essentially used Lucy up and then discarded her. To treat an animal with such a close connection to us, physically and mentally (as his own work demonstrated), is reprehensible. I am so thankful that there are people out there, like the woman who cared for Lucy on the island. Such cruel irony that Lucy, after finally returning to the wild, would meet her demise at the hands of a human; the one species in which she had complete trust. Thank you for sharing this story.

Feb. 24 2012 07:25 PM
judy from Seattle

What a sad, sad story. All for an experiment? Poor Lucy.

Feb. 11 2012 05:11 PM

I nearly cried when I heard how they sedated Lucy's mother and made off with the newborn chimp. Knowing what we do about chimp intelligence and sensitivity, imagine what sadness Lucy's mother must have awoken to.

Feb. 11 2012 05:06 PM

Hello, I'm trying to listen to everything on lucy however none of the links will work.. it doesnt play and doesnt allow me to download as well.. it will only continue to load.. would someone fix this and/or provide me with the download(s)?

Jan. 14 2012 03:05 PM
Rachel from Australia

Wow, a friend told me about this story and it blew me away!!! I couldnt beleive that after raising Lucy as a Human putting her back in the wild was there only option??? You cant train a chimp to make tea, wear jewellery and do sign language and expect her to all of a sudden adapt to living in the jungle!! Yes chimps are smart animals but lucy was such a kind hearted chimp who wanted to be human and i really think she deserved a lot more from her owners!

Jul. 03 2011 08:51 PM
Jessica Dolores from Miami

Such a beautiful story. I hate what happened to Lucy in the end. The purposeless atrocities that humans commit.

Jun. 02 2011 02:58 PM

Picture of hug?

Apr. 19 2011 11:50 PM
Steve Heath from New Boston, MI

I am torn by this story and the sad end to it. While it's fascinating to see all that Lucy was able to learn and accomplish, I feel that she was not remarkable except for the fact that she was taken to live w/ humans...Something that probably never should have happened, and as the Temerlins found out, could not be sustained. Why was it important to know how a chimp would behave when raised as a human? What did we/science gain from this? What did Lucy gain? Perhaps at least we can learn to prevent future suffering and ending senseless experiments that cause animals to become our toys.

Apr. 19 2011 03:14 PM

There can be no doubt that the difference between the mind of the lowest man and that of the highest animal is immense. An anthropomorphous ape, if he could take a dispassionate view of his own case, would admit that though he could form an artful plan to plunder a garden—though he could use stones for fighting or for breaking open nuts, yet that the thought of fashioning a stone into a tool was quite beyond his scope. Still less, as he would admit, could he follow out a train of metaphysical reasoning, or solve a mathematical problem, or reflect on God, or admire a grand natural scene. Some apes, however, would probably declare that they could and did admire the beauty of the coloured skin and fur of their partners in marriage. They would admit, that though they could make other apes understand by cries some of their perceptions and simpler wants, the notion of expressing definite ideas by definite sounds had never crossed their minds. They might insist that they were ready to aid their fellow-apes of the same troop in many ways, to risk their lives for them, and to take charge of their orphans; but they would be forced to acknowledge that disinterested love for all living creatures, the most noble attribute of man, was quite beyond their comprehension. Nevertheless, the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is one of degree and not of kind

~ Charles Darwin

Mar. 26 2011 12:44 PM

Do your research and you will find the story of Lucy is not uncommon at all. There are so many other heartbreaking stories.

For those of you who are outraged, there are other chimpanzees that need your help!

Thank you.

Mar. 16 2011 06:07 PM

The only thing I can really think of after reading everyone's emotion posts is that I wonder if everyone would have a different reaction if we all knew Lucy was still alive. Or, didn't die the way those involved think she did. I think the picture at the end of the slide show shows us comfort. That Lucy was OK with this new life. She was telling Janis that she understands what has happened, as well as understanding that it is hard for all parties involved to come to this point. Lucy knew Janis was checking in, and Janis found comfort in witnessing that Lucy was not only surviving but adjusted well to her knew lifestyle. This gives credit to the love and commitment Janis displayed through her dedication, but also to Lucy's newly learned natural instincts to be able to adjust and survive on her own.
Lucy was doing great, and it wasn't the original owners, or Janis that caused her eventual end. It was poachers. And their ignorance/self righteousness is for another discussion.

Mar. 12 2011 10:01 AM
EB3 from GNV, FL

Excellent piece - congratulations. One note, however - this was neither "science" nor an "experiment". It doesn't meet the minimal intellectual or ethical standards of either. Using these terms only serves to tarnish the work of legitimate scientists.

Keep up the good work.

Mar. 09 2011 08:57 AM
David C from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Even though we all see the ethical faux-pas, I think it merits a mention that perhaps the reason many of us educated people today have the ability to be sympathetic to the plight of a non-human is due to a growing public awareness of human-like traits and abilities in other animals. Something which wouldn't be possible without amazing stories like this one.

I'm not justifying it, and to be honest I missed the first half of the show on the radio, but I don't know if the prevailing thought in this forum should be about damning the Temerlins. People who would be hostile, afraid, or indifferent to other species surely make up the majority of humans, so for all the faults of the experimentors, at least they were willing to dedicate their lives toward giving other people a reason and motivation to care for other species - allowing an intimate glimpse into such an individual member of that species.

If that poacher or fisherman had heard a documentary such as this one, would he still have pulled the trigger?

Mar. 07 2011 12:21 AM
Porter from Brooklyn, NY

Does anyone know where I can buy a copy of the photo of Lucy and Janice? I want to keep this close.

Mar. 06 2011 12:11 PM

This story touched my heart immensely. To listen to all the people in the story who speak of Lucy, to her death, my heart broke. It is a very interesting thought process too.

Education is the basis of all that can go right in this world. So I love that the Dr. has stayed to educate the population in this country on how these animals change our lives.

Mar. 05 2011 10:45 AM
Andra V from Brooklyn, NY

I almost cried in the gym listening to this. It angered me too. I am stunned at how people never seem to think of the consequences of their actions...

Mar. 04 2011 12:00 AM

Are we all a bit like lucy? Taken out of our element from birth? Our tragedy is akin to her's?

Mar. 01 2011 02:51 AM
A E-B from Florida

This really, really upset me. I think you should give listeners a heads up that the story may contain upsetting imagery. I understand the idea is probably to educate and promote understanding, but I was horrified listening to this on my lunch break. Now, I am utterly depressed and saddened by this tradegy.

On a side note, I think the Temerlin name should be removed from Lucy's. They did her a great disservice. They should never have taken her from her mother.

Feb. 28 2011 03:37 PM

There are so many comments about this story, and I understand absolutely broke my heart. When I listened on KCRW, I cried all the way to work. Janis is an amazing and incredible person for loving Lucy so deeply that she stayed on for years to make sure she was ok. She sacrificed everything for Lucy and could not protect her forever. I am crying as I write this. What a wonderful, horrible, haunting and tragic story. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to have heard it. I will never condone raising wild animals in a human environment, but I have so much respect for Janis who did everything she could to do the best for Lucy. What a story! Thank you!

Feb. 26 2011 02:21 AM

Does the Dr. and his wife have any regets or take blame for forcing this way of life on an animal that had no choice in the experiment?

Feb. 25 2011 02:32 PM
Kathy W-G from Altadena, CA

I was running errands last Sat. when, despite a busy schedule, I was mesmerized by Lucy's story and just sat there in my car for 20 min. until it was over. The real hero in this story is Janis. What an amazing woman!! What commitment!

Feb. 24 2011 07:56 PM
jon from santa barbara

I have yet to cry for a few years and this definitely hit the spot, I feel that it was just a combination of bad things from a Dr who was so focused on an experiment tothe end results with a chimp who can never fully go back to either world. Oddly this reminds me of another This American Life special regarding this Samoan girl who was caught in the middle of a adoption scam, cheating 2 families of a girl they both loved.

Feb. 24 2011 04:45 AM
n8 magoo from EAST DALLAS

good story.. great conversational content.. yes the tamerlins are at fault, BUT Lucy DID resettle quite well.. it was a much greater shock for her than the others, obviously.. but that's par for anyone raised by creepy psychotherapists... anyway, those damn poachers are the ones that deserve a nice cage in hell...

Feb. 22 2011 09:57 PM

I realize we are supposed to be civil but this story angered me beyond belief and I had to write something. Unfortunately, Dr. Temerlin is dead but I hope there is a nice cage for him in hell. Sadist like temerlin should not be given any respect and hopefully history will remember these monsters.

Feb. 22 2011 08:14 PM
Huy Tran from Riverton, Utah

In a way, I feel that Lucy was more human than most humans that I know; she understood other's feelings and emotions; and she conveyed empathy and understanding. I was watching my son and I could imagine Lucy in his place, the trust and uninhibitedness towards others.

Let us not forget that humans are part of the animal kingdom, and not overseers of it. All life forms (plant & animal) should be cherished and appreciated.

Feb. 22 2011 07:05 PM
Liliana from Los Angeles

I was so angered by the Lucy story.
Lucy became a pawn in experiments that went horribly wrong.
The people who raised her and abandoned her are responsible for her fate.

Feb. 21 2011 09:56 PM
Naveen Kumar Murugesan from Westmont, IL

This is a clear example of how all other animals in the whole animal kingdom are innocent and ready to stay, live and go along with humans but not vice versa. I regret completely for Lucy for the sudden change from home to a jungle. We people, simply doing whatever we think/like for our experiments but never regret for the soul that we are involved in it. This applies to Lucy, mice, rabbit, etc.

Feb. 21 2011 08:35 PM
Abdoulaye Saine

Last night, I learnt for the first time the story of Lucy, the chimp, and Ms. Janis Carter. I was driving from Columbus to Cincinnati, OH after visiting friends and family, and almost jumped out of my seat when I heard that Janis was in The Gambia, my country of birth.

For me, an American-Gambian, the more interesting questions remain: Why did Janis decide to "resettle" Lucy in The Gambia and not a zoo in New Jersey?

In general, I am troubled by some Westerners, even with the best of intentions, who travel to Africa to "save" or in Janis' case "resettle" Lucy, while paying little to no attention to the people.

In sum, this story is about arrogance and unexamined prejudices, being lived out to tragic ends- ongoing experiments to teach Gambians, Guineans, just as they did with Lucy, new tricks. I pray that unlike Lucy, Janis' story has a happier ending.

Professor Abdoulaye Saine
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056

Feb. 21 2011 02:28 PM

I'd like to add my sincere thanks for producing and sharing this story of Lucy. Like so many others, I listened and am still sobbing. I believe in science and the pursuit of understanding the beings with whom we share the world, but how can there be understanding without respect first? And forethought.

I know I won't forget this. Thank you.

Feb. 21 2011 02:46 AM
Neal from Houston, TX

Had chimpanzees kidnapped a human child and forced it to live a chimp's life then thrown it away when it had problems with that, we would be outraged. I hope we are at Lucy's story.

Feb. 20 2011 11:30 PM
Margot G Szalay from California

I sat in my car in my garage and listened to the
moving story of Lucy and her human companians, especially the selfless devotion of Janis Carter. I would like to find Charles Siebert's book, but did not catch the title. Can someone help with this? Thank you!

Feb. 20 2011 09:43 PM
Nicole Phyllis Katalin Egenberger from nyc

Thank you for sharing this story. It brought me to tears. What is even harder to come to terms with is that her story is not an isolated incident, animals are abandoned and abused daily by the people closest to them.

Hopefully this broadcast will inspire compassion and careful examination of our behavior.

Feb. 20 2011 08:51 PM
Greg Jackson from North Platte, NE

I recall the original airing of his episode in my car in a Wal-Mart parking lot (and my first expeience with RadioLab). My jaw dropped and remained that way except for an occasional "wow". As sad as it was, I came to two conclusions. ONE-Let this serve as a testimonial of a line that should never be crossed again. TWO-RadioLab caught my attention and has held it since. It's stories like this that provoke thought and emotions like no other---just look at the 279 comments (and growing) KUDOS!

Feb. 20 2011 08:13 PM
Cathy Joyner from Smyrna GA

"Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité, dit le renard. Mais tu ne dois pas l’oublier. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé."

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

'Le Petit Prince' (1943) is a novel by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, translated into English as 'The Little Prince'.

Feb. 20 2011 08:07 PM
Deana from St. Louis, MO

This is a lesson for us all. We cannot cross species. I think that Jane is the most devoted person I have ever "met" on NPR. She tried to assimilate Lucy at great personal sacrifice. This was an amazing story and I can't wait to share it with my students. Thank you!

Feb. 20 2011 08:01 PM
don from San Diego

I Cry.. Are we Tamerlin or Janice Carter or Lucy, or Lucy? What are we? I Cry..

Feb. 20 2011 07:47 PM
Sandra Adams from Munhall,PA

I also believe the Tamerlins should be prosecuted. Where is the funding coming from for this type of cruelty. And what type of person would buy this book to reward the emotional and physical pain Lucy went through. The idea of this experiment to raise an animal like a child is mental illness at its apex. The Tamerlins lack of responsibility put that bullet in Lucy just as if they pulled the trigger themselves. God should punish the Tamerlins by sending them to burn in hell!!!!!

Feb. 20 2011 07:37 PM
Rob from Ellsworth, Maine

I just happened to turn on the radio to listen to something while cooking supper, and heard the Lucy story. Instead of supper I spent half an hour sobbing on the couch, looking at the heartbreaking picture of Lucy and Janis. I pray for a world where we all treat our fellow creatures with the kindness, respect and love they deserve. What hubris, to take a baby of a wild animal from her parents, teach her to love and trust you, then abandon her emotionally and physically in a place where she is not safe when she becomes inconvenient. So many mistakes - may Lucy's sacrifice lead to much learning. And thanks to Janis for her unselfish gift. What a horrible situation to be put in.

Feb. 20 2011 07:25 PM
Francine from Ada, Michigan

While listening to the story about Lucy's life, I was overcome by the memory of an overwhelming sense of abandonment I experienced as a young child. With the loss of both parents, I was raised in an excellent boarding school instead of by my extended family for which I yearned and by whom I felt abandoned . I was fortunate to have my physical and educational need met more so than I could have had with both parents. My friends' families tried to fill the parental void but it only served to mask the pain. The therapist in Lucy's case was irresponsible to undertake such a "project"! Surely, he knows about the strong bond between mother, child, and family as well as an individual's desire of the ultimate unconditional love the biological parent provides. What concern did he have for the grieving mother? Where was his compassion for Lucy when he abandoned her during her difficult time? What common good did he hope to establish with his experiment? Should he not be in the business, as a therapist, to strengthen the family bond? Anthropology and Social Sciences have long established that, unless they face physical or emotional harm, children perform best with their nuclear family. The grief and distress the therapist caused by his useless and selfish "experiment" (in his quest to satisfy his curiousity) should be cause enough to revoke his medical license as a "therapist"!

Feb. 20 2011 06:11 PM
Drew from Eau Claire

I consider myself fairly manly (I am watching NASCAR right now... seriously). This is the second time I heard the Lucy piece, and both times I have been struck with the blind arrogance of Temerins (and that lady that had her face and hands removed comes in mind), and the dedication of Janis (I think that is right). I wept both times I heard it, and that picture really has me broken up. Look at Lucy's left hand....not at all the account Janis had; she looks like she is grieving.

Feb. 20 2011 04:24 PM
delia from Grosse Pointe, Michigan

I think that what distrurbed me the most about this story was the lack of emotion that Lucy's "parents" had in literally abandoning her. Yes, humans grow up and move on, but the difference is there still remains some type of contact, and not leaving an "inconvenience" hundreds of miles away. I think that either there was an obvious lack of remorse, or a huge superiority complex with the doctor...would have liked to have him in the rain with the bugs and monkey feces for a few weeks to see if this was truly the best decision.

Feb. 20 2011 04:12 PM
mlatchkey from Ohio

This just shows us how irresponsible all humans are. From the people raising the animal for their own pleasure and not thinking of the repercussions of their actions, to the lack of respect the persons that killed her had for all life. We are a menace to earth. Shame on us.

Feb. 20 2011 03:10 PM

Lucy was not abandoned or left alone. She moved to a new place, and met new companions. Janis was there for her for as long as she needed to be. I no longer live in my parents home. I have learned to survie on my own, made new friends, and live hundreds of miles away from the familiar places of my youth. Isn't that part of growing up? Adulthood means no longer relying on the safety nets of childhood. I believe Janis made very similar transitions to Lucy's.

I don't think adopting Lucy and raising her to be almost human was ethical, but in the end, I think her parents did for her what all parents do for their children. They found a way/person to teach her to live independently in a group of her peers. She couldn't have been turned loose in human society, so they found a place where she could live.

Feb. 20 2011 02:14 PM
Rosalind Furlow from Quincy, Florida

This story made me so sad. I remember Lucy from my childhood. We lived in Norman,Oklahoma and my parents were friends with the Timerlins. I remember the strange experience of Lucy taking me by the hand to show me something outside. They also had another chimp, I guess before Lucy, named Charlie Brown. My little sister was close to him, and was quite upset when he suddenly died.

Feb. 20 2011 01:20 PM
Susan Weinman from Philadelphia, PA

I agree with Nat

"The Tamerlins should be criminally prosecuted."

HOW COULD THEY DO THAT! They didn't do it because they didn't have the money they did it because they wanted to feel better about their decision.

She would have been better off in a zoo. At least there she would have had human contact, lived a long life educating people about chimps. They JUST LEFT HER out side to HONOR HER!!!!! I am just weeping. The most horrific parents they did this to her. Better off on an island in the wild. Are they crazy? They had better hope I never meet them, I would give them a piece of my mind at the very least, or spit at them.

Feb. 20 2011 01:02 PM
beelady from Virginia

A tragic story, yes. I kept thinking however, how similar the story is to children, the ill and elderly. Abandonment by parents and caregivers sends all creatures into a world of terror and vunerability from which some never recover, just like Lucy. We all need to think about and take responsibility for our actions and how those actions will ultimately affect those around us, human and animal, especially the ones dependent on us.

Feb. 20 2011 11:37 AM
Molly Payne from Goochland, VA

I can't stop sobbing.

Feb. 20 2011 11:19 AM
Tom Cox from Duluth MN

Pulitzer Prize-winning show. The best of radio, from start to finish. As usual, from TAL. You've got to listen -- then, kind of, you wish you hadn't.

Tom Cox, Duluth MN

Feb. 20 2011 05:41 AM
Jase from FL

It was a crazy decision to return her to the wild. How would you feel if everything familiar is taken away from you? Horrible. Talk about 'the path to hell is paved with good intentions.'.

Feb. 20 2011 04:39 AM
Terry from Mountain Springs, TX

What a tragic, tragic tale. No one was TRYING to turn Lucy into a creature with no corresponding species, but that's what happened. Scientists often do things in the name of research that are in the end questionable, but I've never had one hit me like this. Thanks, Radiolab, for making me FEEL!

Feb. 19 2011 10:36 PM
Liz from Lomita, CA

I thought I was loosing my marbles as I have been unable to shake the tragic story of Lucy's demise. After reading many comments of others I am comforted that my hours of tears were not alone shed. The preciousness of life transcends all living things and we should carry this story in our hears to remind us everyday that love is the universes' common denominator. I'm still crying!!!!

Feb. 19 2011 07:57 PM
Mike from Orlando,FL

I was driving home from a late lunch and listened to this story and couldn't leave the car until it was finished. This story broke my heart and made ME cry, what a tragedy. My heart goes out to Lucy and Jane as well. I couldn't imagine having to live with the guilt, even though she did what she thought was best. Sigh..

Feb. 19 2011 05:23 PM
heather from Los Angeles

The story of Lucy fully illustrates the grandiose idiocy of humans. And brought me to tears. They taught her to understand, decipher and live with emotions, and then they leave her... totally emotionally abandoned and sad and wondering what in the world happened. She didn't understand why her "parents" left, or why she was suddenly sleeping outside. She was abandoned in the truest, saddest sense of the word. I hope that the Tamerlins felt guilty. How sad for poor Lucy... and for her end. That humanity, who raised her, loved her, abandoned her... then murdered her. We are a waste of a species sometimes.

Feb. 19 2011 05:16 PM

Lucy was unlucky to been subjected to her early environmental conditions. But it seems clear Lucy was lucky to lose her life when she did. The abject loneliness and sense of abandonment would have been truly unbearable. My heart breaks for her and all her fellow-sufferers.

Feb. 19 2011 05:05 PM
Lorien from NY, NY

R.I.P Lucy. I am truly heartbroken by this story. Terrible decision Jane made in trying to return this adorable creature back to the wild. Shame on her for all of the decisions she made.

Feb. 19 2011 03:59 PM
maya from Michigan

Simultaneously remarkable and horrific. The loving bond between Janice and Lucy is captured in a snapshot that truly is hauntingly beautiful. How fortunate to have lived to see such love. How cruel to have Lucy's knowledge of humans turn into a possible explanation for her death.

Feb. 19 2011 03:17 PM
Jon from DC

An astonishingly moving and heartbreaking tale.
I'm nearly numb now not knowing how to digest it.

Feb. 19 2011 02:06 PM
Paule F. from Portland, Maine

One of the saddest stories I've ever heard - I'll never forget it or the wrenching feeling I have. I had a terrible time finding the photo as I know many others had also. Go to, scroll down to the slideshow and watch the whole slideshow. It's the last photo in the slideshow. Don't know why 2010, instead of 2011, is in the web address but that's what finally got me to the right place.

Feb. 19 2011 01:53 PM

Radiolab...Lucy's life experience will forever haunt me. I'm appalled at the arrogance of her original research family. How dare they try to raise her as a human then decide to return her to the wild. Her death at the hands of poachers...ridiculous, her death was the result of trusting humans. I learned a lot listening to this story and wish I didn't!

Feb. 10 2011 10:09 PM

Im highly greatful for finding out about Radiolab.. The topics usually remind me of how many answers we have while at the same time not having any answers at all.. This story of lucy has brought me to tears and confusion but also makes me more aware about getting involved with protecting animals

Jan. 18 2011 11:26 PM
Jordan from Florida

I just started listening to all the older episodes of Radiolab since I just found it. I've been stimulated and intrigued by hours and hours of the show but I've NEVER been hit emotionally as much as this show, and I'm not even an animal lover (I usually hardly think of them as anything beyond simple dumb beings). I suppose this attests to the whole point of the show, the crossing over of animals, Lucy in this case, beyond being just animals.

Amazing show, further proof that my donation was worthwhile!

Jan. 03 2011 04:14 PM
Laurence Gonzales

I am the author of the novel "Lucy" that was recently published by Knopf. It deals with a teenage girl who is half human and half bonobo. I think you'd be interested in her. She'll steal your heart. You can see more at

It also delves into the moral and ethical issues surrounding the growing awareness of our ability to cross the lines between species through modern bio-technology.

Glad to see the work you're doing.

Oct. 10 2010 08:37 PM

As much as a enjoy this show, I stopped listening for a few weeks after Lucy aired. All I could think about was how bereft she must have felt as she watched her "parents" and then Janice sail off. In my mind's eye I can picture her staring out across the water waiting for someone familiar to come back for her . . .

Oct. 09 2010 02:38 PM
Toby from Atlanta

It's unfair & speciesist to say, "she didn't act 'like a chimp'"... sure some behavior is 'hard wired' in individuals but to suggest that Lucy didn't 'behave like a chimp' isn't really fair... if you can try some lateral thinking (not a skill everyone has an easy time with) it would be like a more conscious species than humans raising a human & saying, "because this human doesn't live in a cave, or because this human doesn't have a house or something superficial like that, it is therefore not acting like a human... it (he/she/he-she) behaves like our species & that is not how a human 'should' behave"... that word 'should' is not really good call. Chimps might be happier living like most chimps do, but Lucy DID live like a chimp (not a typical chimp though). I'm reminded of a local teacher who was suspended for asking a black student (not to compare black people to chimps, but it's this kind of situation where someone is implying that there is a way one 'should' behave in accordance with superficial separators like race or species), "how do you feel acting white?", it was something like that... the implication is similar. Lucy behaved like a chimp but not like a typical chimp in the wild... it's a rhetorical issue.

Oct. 04 2010 05:37 PM

I caught this on the way home from work, and I cannot stop thinking about poor Lucy. WE arrogant humans ruined this beautiful chimps life. She never fully was able to be a chimp. And Janis Carter is my hero. To do what she did and to live what she lived through took something that I don't have. I'm glad that Lucy is done with her torture, now it's time to go rescue all the other animals out of all the other labs and either get them into loving homes or in their natural environment.

Also, on a side note, how incredibly irresponsible for that phd and his wife to just abandon Lucy like that! Poor Jane had to clean up their mess and in good conscience couldn't leave Lucy like that. That's really really bad karma.

Oct. 04 2010 03:13 AM
Amy from Melbourne, Australia

I really wish I didn't listen to this work. I feel like I want to go and have a long walk and a big cry. Such a sad story and such a lot to take in - I need to put all these thoughts on hold until my work day has finished!

Sep. 23 2010 12:37 AM
Cindy from Oregon

Wow! I just listened to the Lucy story and was spellbound and deeply saddened at the end. I was especially struck by the level of commitment and compassion that Janis demonstrated towards Lucy. Even though her "parents" showed extremely poor judgment by creating the problem, Janis, who had only known Lucy for a short while, redeems the human race by refusing to abandon her and going to incredible lengths to help her live in the wild, even to eat ants, etc.! Thanks for the story. I'll never forget it!

Sep. 16 2010 12:00 AM

or perhaps Janice didn't really do the right thing after all.
"At that time, wild chimp behavior was not well enough known for me or any one else to realize that this was an attempt more or less doomed from the outset. This work and other personal commitments kept me from ensuring, as I had intended, that Lucy and Marianne occupied an island of 300 acres of chimp habitat with a couple of other chimps for whom rehabilitation was also not an option. Here Lucy would have had her freedoms with chimp friends, but would still have had access to elements of the way of life she had experienced from birth: food, magazines, toys, etc.
Carter, who came as Lucy's caretaker, had no qualms about subjecting Lucy to the rehabilitation process, and was able to document the years of Lucy's difficult adjustment. I say "adjustment," as she never became truly rehabilitated. She remained underweight, and although chimpanzees normally first give birth at about 13 years old, she had not reproduced by the time of her death at 21."

Jul. 25 2010 04:16 AM

They could never become truly human - it's plain Lucy would never abandon her family of whatever species.

Jul. 25 2010 03:38 AM

The Moth podcast released this week (May 24th) is a story from scientist Irene Pepperberg about her relationship with her surprisingly clever parrot, Alex.

Another story about a personal connection with an intelligent animal and worth the listen! []

May. 25 2010 05:18 PM

Thank you Janis. Your actions epitomize the true meaning of the term "humanity".Your kindness and generosity are lessons we can all aspire to emulate.

May. 11 2010 05:08 PM

Stupid human tricks.

May. 10 2010 12:16 AM
Jessica Hahn

I think "humanist" was the wrong term in my last comment. Janis Carter was the most humane and compassionate of humans in the experimentations surrounding Lucy's early life. I think she's my new hero.

May. 04 2010 01:55 AM
Jessica Hahn

Janis Carter is amazing. Under great personal sacrifice and with such love, she was the only humanist in this mess of animal experimentation.

May. 04 2010 01:52 AM

I cannot believe the arrogance and total lack of respect that humans show animals for the sake of "science". In reality it seems more that this is all a sick morbid curiosity that is causing more harm than good. I am totally dumbfounded.

May. 02 2010 01:44 AM

This story brought me to tears. The most horrible part to me is when she is signing to Janis that she is hurt. She must have been so distraught that these humans that once treated her like family were now kicking her out. Unbelievably selfish. And poor Janis was left to clean up the mess this PhD had made.

When will we ever learn that some things just need to be left alone? Just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should.

Apr. 30 2010 12:50 AM

the hug is sad and shows much emotion,we should just leave nature alone. Poachers should be tracked down and killed.

Apr. 25 2010 07:02 PM
Liz Miller

Arrogance is probably the only human trait that we will be unable to teach animals. The Lucy story was so appalling I am still angry at some of the human participants. People who experiment with animals and abandon them should not be called scientists. People who aim to teach animals human ethics, likewise, should not call themselves scientists. The male bonobo who bit the male "scientist" was simply trying to protect the human who cared for him. Why pressure the animal to apologize? The bonobo had absolutely nothing to apologize for; it was the human male who should have apologized for not intervening in the argument that agitated the animal.

Apr. 23 2010 09:12 PM

What a story! The real tragedy of Lucy will be our failure to comprehend the "moral" and continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Apr. 22 2010 08:05 AM
Melanie Hughes

I listened to "Lucy" for a second time today. Wept again. Finally saw the picture of the embrace. Wept again. Thank you Janis for all you did for Lucy. Thank you Radiolab for telling the story.

Apr. 17 2010 08:53 PM
Steven Gauntt

Sad, but inspiring.
If we could only get over our petty selves and see the bigger, more beautiful picture.
Thank you!

Apr. 17 2010 05:01 PM

Humans can be so cruel and careless.

Pure Lucy would have been better off to be put to sleep than forced to exist on some lonely island with complete strangers from a now different species with completely different habits, culture, communication, purpose and understanding of life.

The last photo says it all.
What an awful interpretation of this heartbreaking hug the story provided. It's all good now ..... ????
- Oh Lord have mercy on them, for they don't know...

Animals, like humans, obviously can and do perish from sorrow and feelings of no purpose and loneliness.
It appears, Lucy eventually went to the place were the cage and human companion used to be, to die.
Her remains got the usual local natural treatment.

I hope the spirit of Lucy is haunting those people for the rest of their days and beyond.

Apr. 17 2010 04:40 PM

I should have added a heartfelt thank you to Janis for doing what she did for Lucy and the other chimpanzees. There aren't many of us who would so selflessly give of themselves for the betterment of others - especially under such gruelling and truly horrific conditions as she did. I will carry her story in my heart and hope that someday, if I am faced with something of its equal, I will step forward and do my part as well. Thank you...

Apr. 13 2010 06:28 PM

This story had me in tears while on the road at work today. I don't understand the point of experimentation with animals...period...and especially animals with such obvious intelligence. They hurt just like we do. I hope we all can learn a valuable lesson from this story and will not be doomed to repeat its mistakes again.

Apr. 13 2010 06:05 PM

This story had me weeping with rage and grief. These ignorant people took an intelligent, sentient, social being and separated her from her natural world and chimp family. They imbued her with a false culture and series of behaviors that were useless to her, and made her totally dependent on them. They then reneged on their responsibility to her, abandoned her in an environment she had no ability to survive in or wish to exist in. Hats off to Janis for her love and efforts, but these people are the epitome of humanity at its worst.

Apr. 13 2010 01:07 PM
Terry Collins


Chimps are not monkeys. They are apes. This is a science program after all.

Love your program as do my kids. We listen on long road trips.

Apr. 12 2010 09:54 PM

RadioLab thank goodness you are letting the mentally handicapped like Indrek Pringi to comment. Everyone should get a voice, even people whose heads are filled with water instead of actual brain matter

Apr. 11 2010 09:19 AM
Indrek Pringi

If you caught your pubescent daughter masturbating, would you go out and buy a pornographic magazine filled with male gorillas and show it to her and help her masturbate to the pictures? Whoooo mama..! Dat sure shows how dey loved Lucy and tried to raise her like their own child. Something all of you seemed to have MISSED, eh?

And the story of Kanzi... 'moments of confusion'? There was no confusion whatsoever. Kanzi told him exactly what he should so, and he didn't. How did he excuse his behavior? Like the coward that he is: he 'defaulted'. Jesus Christ... the politicallly correct words cowards use to avoid facing human problems. He deserved being bitten.

And another gem you idiots missed: Jane Goodall's advice on how to handle an immature chimp bully who is stronger than you: "Just ignore the problem an it will go away"... Jesus Christ on a Cross: This is supposed to be some kind of scientific wisdom? This is exactly why the human species is overpopulating the world right now and avoiding facing every problem it has created. She hit Goblin in the face like she should have IN THE FIRST PLACE. Not wait for days and months before she did it. And when Goblin went crying to Feegan: he was just patted on the head and told: "There now, you stupid bully: you deserved that." And that was the END of his bullying.

You stupid humans refuse to learn from the lessons even when they are shown to you. When you find someone acting like a bully: STAND UP TO THEM. Don't let them get away with it. But noooo! You let Bush and Cheney get away with lying to you and starting a war you didn't want. You let your governments and your banks get away with all kinds of corruption.

And the alternative solution to Lucy's experiment?? Studying Benobo's living in a CAGE?? And not going INTO the cage to see what Kanzzi was pointing at? Whooo MAMA!!! DAT IS SURE INTELLIGENTSCIENCE!!! So da conclusion IS??? Dat scientists can't live WITH Chimps or Benobos in da same HOUSE? And dey also can't LIVE with dem in da same CAGE?? So da answer is? To put EVERYBODY!! into SEPARATE CAGES?? an STUDY DEM??? WHOOO MAMMA!!!

Can you say: "modern highrise apartment dwellings"? Can you say "Condo's"? What the hell do you think 6.8 billion human apes have been DOING to, eh?

The lessons of this podcast are obvious: ordinary chimpanzees AND humans are MORE intelligent than scientists.

The IDEA... of experimenting on your own CHILDREN!? The IDEA of 'experimenting' on ANY living creature: the IDEA of scientific experimentation is... STUPID.

Scientists should be kidnapped from their mothers, put into cages, and have their hands and feet cut off: and then we can study them and see how long it takes for them to bleed to death. This will be a WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT for SCIENCE.

Apr. 10 2010 09:00 PM

And the picture of Lucy hugging Janis at the end isn't touching, it's a picture of tragically misplaced trust in the people who raised and cared for her.

Apr. 07 2010 04:01 AM

I am an animal lover and a professional dog trainer, and this story makes me sick. I don't care how primitive animal science was, the slightest bit of common sense will tell you that 1) a chimp will grow to be many times as strong as a human and become unmanageable in a household setting, 2) wild animals should not be taken from the wild and raised in houses, and 3) ANY creature -- your dog, your child or yourself -- raised in a house surrounded by humans, and then abandoned by its family group in a jungle will be stressed, afraid, and is likely to starve or be killed. Where was the love for their "daughter" when the parents abandoned her in a strange and terrifying place, and left Janis behind to monitor the transition?? By taking Lucy out of her natural habitat, they incurred a responsibility to provide for her care in perpetuity. They failed in this responsibility at the expense of Lucy's life. They should be ashamed.

Apr. 07 2010 03:58 AM

as a sixtenn year old intent upon becoming a scientist, this story is just amazing. I never knew how human even wild chimps were. Lucy making tea, for example. I don't know, it just blows my mind, this story. The most touching thing I have ever heard. I cried, I'll admit it. And I am going to share this story whenever I get the chance. Amazing.

Mar. 31 2010 08:45 PM
Debbie Post

I am deeply angered by people like the Temerlins who would take any life - a dog, cat, bird, chimpanzee, a baby - and use it to satisfy their own "scientific" curiosity - and then when the experiment is too much for them to handle, they find a way to walk away from the situation that they created. This little 'scientific' experiment would make a good doctoral thesis on selfish human behavior - forget chimpanzee behavior! I hope the Temerlins continue to agonize and suffer over this decision - it's the least they can do!

Mar. 20 2010 09:58 AM
Nicholas Pellerin

Where is this epic photo of Janis Carter and Lucy embracing for one final picture? I beseech thee, Radiolab! Please please please post it on your site! I need this.

Mar. 18 2010 08:02 PM
Michael M.

Wait - Radiolab vs. This American Life:
Is "cry hurt food" spoiled radishes, or an onion? Weird TAL was edited that way...

Mar. 16 2010 08:20 PM

I just kept thinking, this is really bad science. Both the Lucy and Bonobo stories show how easily scientist can be distracted from practicing proper science.

Mar. 16 2010 01:50 PM
Julian Brummitt

What an absolutely tragic story and an amazing human being. It's hard to believe that humans can be so extremely different. Where one would give thier life to this other being to save them, another human can be so removed from any sense of empathy for it that for mere profit they could dismember it and go through the gory details of removing it's skin. Mankind can really be a let-down.

Mar. 14 2010 03:26 AM

This story made me so angry. I'm angry at the Temerlins for their "experiment" and then their decision not to be responsible for the consequences of their "experiment". I'm angry that these people decided to leave Lucy alone in the wild after acculturating her to the degree that she was no longer an animal but not human, to abandon her like that is unconscionable and even Lucy can tell Janis it is causing her pain. What did they learn from this atrocious "experiment" other than humans are cruel, insensitive, horrid creatures.

Mar. 12 2010 11:28 PM

Wow, what an amazing story. Does anyone know what the intro music is from 6:31-7:15?

Mar. 12 2010 12:15 PM
Wendy K

I love Radio Lab and am always amused by the podcasts. Today I was moved to SOBBING during the telling of the Lucy story. My 2 1/2 year old son said "Onions, mama!". I am still weeping. Thank you for the story. I will be certain to follow up with the book. I am really interested in how Janis is psychologically affected by her amazing experience. I could go on about the atrocity of the original experiment. It is indeed an atrocity and we should all have a lesson from it....

Mar. 11 2010 08:35 PM

WNYC/NPR: Shame on you!!...and...Thank you for telling this story!!

Mar. 10 2010 10:46 PM

Lucy did everything that was asked of her but when she exhibited her natural strength and nature, she was thrown aside like trash.
I see Lucy in despair...trying to melt into Janis but knowing that she will be rejected yet again. The picture of the hug haunts me.

Mar. 09 2010 10:52 PM

@Nathaly Alvarado --

"... to finish it off the cruelty of poachers"

My reaction was that the poachers who shot Lucy delivered the kindest exit from a tortured existence -- unknowing, and unintentional to be sure -- the people who rip wild animals from their evolutionary niches and attempt to "force-fit" them into a social structure and organization which they are not evolved for are the worse criminals -- mirrors of those who actively destroy the habitats of the animals. If you think about it, Lucy was living a quite tortured existence at that point, and doubtless approached the poacher with the chimp analog of hope in her heart, and that's how she died. Far better than withering away in depression and terror. There oughta be a law.

Let the dissenters commence.

Mar. 09 2010 06:19 PM

@Joseph -- plenty responsive for me as well. I suggest trying (at the risk of igniting the tall grasses in the web-space) a flash-suppression plugin. See if that doesn't make the essentials pop out at least twice as fast as they currently do for you.

Mar. 09 2010 06:07 PM
Sean Robinson

Nice job as always, folks. Like L above, I had a few reservations regarding the episode afterwards, less to do with the actual content and more a little bit worried that the science content will be more soft in the future. However, I had the same feeling after the War of the Worlds episode, which I loved as well, and it definitely didn't signal some grand trend, but rather another facet of the Radiolab experience. So, loved it again, and keep surprising me.

Mar. 09 2010 03:10 PM

I usually listen to radiolab on my bus commute, and even though I tried hard not to do so, I burst into tears right there on the bus.

Mar. 09 2010 02:21 PM

Thank you for this story.... I am forever changed as a person because of it. "Sad" does not even begin to describe it.

Mar. 09 2010 07:14 AM
Sam Leeman-Munk

I'm an atheist that would like to speak up for John's right to express his thoughts on this excellent and deep episode of RadioLab. Although I do not personally believe in God myself, I thought John drew an interesting parallel that had not occurred to me before.

I for one hope we can prevent this philosophical discussion from degrading into a religious war.

Mar. 08 2010 10:50 PM

@ John
Agree w/Nick. Everyone should keep their magical beliefs to themselves. Would it be relevant if I brought up my personal relationship with the Toothfairy/Zues/Loch Ness Monster as I find it relating to Lucy's story? No, it's just annoying and sad.

Mar. 08 2010 04:59 PM
Richard Saad

The owners of Lucy should have never put her back in the wild. What a shame. If Lucy was like their daughter, I have a hard time understanding why they would simply leave it to defend itself in the wild.

Mar. 07 2010 06:35 PM

one of the saddest stories i've ever heard... i think the family that adopted her was too selfish, regardless of the understandable scientific allure of their experiment; the woman that stayed with her for years in africa is such a tragic hero; that final pic, and lucy's death... the whole thing ends up just heartbreaking; people need to be more careful with animals in science; its not about whether or not an animal is as smart as you, its about whether it can suffer (pretty sure someone on radiolab said that once); and i'm pretty sure they all can... what makes this particular story sooo rough is that she suffered in a way that was so familiar

Mar. 05 2010 07:41 PM

Proseltyzing? Wow--not me. I merely was passing along that this story made me think about a lot of things, including my own relationship with whatever might exceed my intelligence. Perhaps others, any religion or no religion at all, might find their minds wandering at these subjects as well. No endorsement of anything other than my own curiosity. Sorry Mr. Nick. I'm trying to have an intelligent discussion with the best intelligence I have. I'll respect that if you and I sat down together, we'd have an awful lot in common.

Mar. 04 2010 10:25 PM

It's sad that some people need to use this page as an excuse to proselytize. (Looking at you, John.)
Can't we have an intelligent discussion without bringing in your mythological being of choice?

Mar. 04 2010 03:23 PM

To radiolab: Congratulations at making us truly think AND feel about our relationships with one another, with the rest of the planet, and, well...

This story stirred in me many similar emotions to those already well-documented in the 200+ responses on this post. My feelings about the Temerlins, Janice, the poachers, and Lucy aren't unique, I can tell. One thing I found most striking, though, which I didn't notice any other posters discussing is the Temerlin's awareness of the chasm betweee "us" humans and the chimps. In so many ways, Lucy caught glimpses of the other side of this chasm, but could not, ultimately, cross it. The Tamerlins knew/know that it is there, and took Lucy to the edge, but although they seemed to "wonder" how far Lucy could go, ultimately, failed to understand that it would destroy her. This got me thinking about our relationship with God. Specifically, it got me thinking about Christ and the idea of God sending his son into humanity to try to lead us to the edge of that chasm, and how close to transcending it we humans might be able to get by following Christ. I know this show wasn't even remotely a Christian metaphor, but it made me think about this idea, and I considered it a worthwhile thing to share. Radiolab always makes me feel, and it usually makes me think, and I like doing both of these things. Thanks.

Mar. 04 2010 09:37 AM

Great story but just as L. already stated: I, too, would have liked a more scientific insight and perhaps a new angle? After all, this is an "old" story, more than one book has been written (or so it seems).

Here is the link to the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust in Gambia:
Supposedly this is where Lucy was sent.

Mar. 03 2010 01:14 PM

I'm curious as to what is happening to chimpanzee habitat? Sadly, like all habitat it is probably being destroyed.

Let's not get to caught up in the story of one individual (sad as it is). The real tragedy is that this species, like so many others, is disappearing.

Mar. 02 2010 10:23 PM
Avid TAL listener

This story was just so disturbing and I'm not surprised to discover how many have come to this site to comment. Shortly after the story aired on This American Life, the trainer at Sea World was killed by a Killer Whale. There was an animal rights advocate talking on TV about how these whales are confined to small pools that don't allow them to live normal lives, and one of the aquatic zoo reps replied that we need to have Killer Whales in captivity in order to study them. As if we don't have the means to observe them in their own habitat! It reminded me so much of Lucy's sad story and how this outdated thinking is still alive today. Does teaching a whale circus tricks and teaching a chimp to act like a human advance science? I have to say that I actually am looking at my pampered pet dog in a different way after this story. How important it is to respect the boundaries between species.

Mar. 02 2010 09:58 PM
Angela McCormick

I was so shaken by the story of Lucy. I felt total disbelief and anger that two educated people- psychologists no lees- would think that domesticating a wild animal and then abandoning it would turn out with a happy ending. These people should have been arrested and brought up on criminal negligence and animal abuse. Then to hear the end of the story and sad ending for Lucy herself, there I was driving I-70 through a Colorado snow storm with tears streaming down my face. I cried so hard that I had to pull over on the side of the highway. I cried again when I saw the famed photo of Janis and Lucy in a hug.

Mar. 02 2010 05:11 PM
Lori Luciano

Re: Lucy
This is a cautionary tale: a very sad one. One would not take the family dog and take it into the wild - trying to make wild again, like a wolf. Why would anyone believe, Janice or the psychologists believe that a humanized chimp would be able to become wild again? These people should be brought up on criminal charges. They should have taken the chimp to a retirement center and not to Gambia. Where is the Gambian government and why are they not criminalizing this type of behavior of american tourists?

Mar. 02 2010 09:37 AM
Meredith Conder

What about the speciation of Janice?

Mar. 02 2010 08:48 AM

, versus many of the others here, have recently read the book on Lucy by Temerline. Yes, it made me mad as I already knew about Lucy's eventual fate. Finally this Radiolab story gives Ms. Carter's full story about Lucy's last years.

We look at the Lucy story with 35 years of Jane Goodall chimpanzee advocacy, PETA conscious rousing ads, the CHIMP act for retired lab chimps, etc behind us. At the time, what was going on with the Lucy and other chimp language experiments was cutting edge. Remember back then anyone was able to buy, sell, beat, breed, etc chimps and other primates. It was only 1975 when it was outlawed to bring new chimps/gorillas into the US.

I personally suspect that the Dr. Maurice K. Temerline and his wife also were into some weed smoking due to his "new age-y" descriptions of the world, psychology, etc.

He also completely failed to pick up on some chimp behavior even when it was right in front of him. Lucy would defecate anywhere in the house causing much concern etc yet she would never do this in their truck cab when traveling to a vacation farm. He mentions that, upon arriving, she would immediately get out and go on the lawn. Well, Maurice totally failed to pick up that chimps don't like to sit/step in their own waste- it went right over his head. Goodall later figured it out by watching the wild chimps.

Did they do a disservice to Lucy? Completely. But Lucy's experience and sacrifice paved the way for scores of other former entertainment/lab/pet chimps being housed in as humanely a way as possible in the new millennium.

Mar. 02 2010 06:26 AM

I haven't gone thru all comments so this may not be the first sentiment of its kind. it was heart wrenching to imagine Lucy's being dropped off in Africa by her adopted parents as if she were simply a science project. after one day of contemplation, I think the story speaks more to the inhumanity (and irresponsibility) of the psychologist than Lucy the chimp.

Mar. 02 2010 01:46 AM

Here is very interesting letter/article from the late Stella Brewer, a reknown primatologist who was involved in Lucy's Gambian "rehabilitation". The letter critisizes the attempts to reintroduce Lucy into the wild, and (more importantly) questions the triumphant narrative built around her death:

Mar. 02 2010 01:46 AM

After all the comments about the "haunting" hug photo, and the fact that I was required to sit through an entire slideshow to see it, I really wasn't expecting much. But everybody was right--that photo is haunting. And I'm glad I saw the other pictures, too, as they gave good supplemental information about Lucy's life. A heartbreaking story.

Mar. 01 2010 05:12 PM

I don't understand why they tried to re-introduce Lucy to the wild. I think that it was cruel and confusing to completely change her life and take her away from everything that she knew and was familiar with. She was terrified of a male chimp, so why? I can't understand why she was put through all that pain. The fact that she was saying she was broke my heart listening to this. I really would like to know why she was put through this and ultimately paid with her life. The doctor and his wife should be utterly ashamed of what they did- throwing her away. This truly was an act so cruel I am sick thinking about what all these people did to this poor animal. Shame on them, these so called scientists...

Mar. 01 2010 12:34 PM

Great podcast from what I have heard so far. Every week is fantastic, but this one is truly heartbreaking.

FYI, the podcast download is extremely slow for me, too. That only happens to me for Radio Lab. Download time was more than 2 hours.

Mar. 01 2010 02:21 AM

A truly tragic story.

We (humans) are a very interesting species. In certain situations, we are able to show a tremendous level of empathy and morality. Yet we think nothing of the "homeless guy" sitting on the street or the animals forced to live in inhumane condition to provide us with food and clothing.

Mar. 01 2010 01:01 AM

Michael Vick was a saint. This story was like a von Trier film. Just injustice after injustice.

Mar. 01 2010 12:49 AM

I was listening to This American Life while on the treadmill and found the story of Lucy captivating and my heart reaching out for her. As the end of her story began to unfold, I almost fell off the treadmill because I could not stop crying. I blame her so called "parents" for her death. She would have faired better with her mom. At least she would have been with members of her own species instead of being exposed to the selfish behavior of two people who took what they needed from her, and discarded her as so much trash. They should be ashamed of themselves. It is times like this that I am reminded of why I became a vegetarian.

Mar. 01 2010 12:42 AM

I don't understand why the Tamerlins are not in jail.

Mar. 01 2010 12:12 AM

I wept after listening to this story. I have not been able to shake the sick feeling I have in my stomache from knowing the kinds of cruelty humans can inflict on animals. How can we call ourselves humans and yet act so inhumanly towards animals. I may not recover from the emotional impact of this story for a long time.

Feb. 28 2010 11:57 PM

I think chimps are very intellectual and demonstrate alot of similarities with humans, im not saying they are us, i know that because theres a reason why they are a different species

Feb. 28 2010 10:43 PM

How dare the Temerlins take this baby chimp from its mother. Then, they have the ultimate nerve to abandon her when they were "finished" with her. By that time, Lucy had been "humanized" and brought up to be a "good little girl". They essentially abandoned and threw away their "little girl". Sounds like negligent homicide to me.
I cried after hearing this story. I cried for Lucy and the devastating, immense sadness, confusion and hurt she must have felt.

Feb. 28 2010 10:01 PM
John Shannon

And may all poachers live in Dante's Inferno, where their hands are chopped off very day for eternity by Great Apes.

Feb. 28 2010 05:46 PM

My heart just aches thinking of poor Sweet Lucy signing to the poachers "hurt" and "scared" and not understanding why they were not helping... poor sweet lucy, how scared you must have been in the last few years... (even though Janice did all that she could.)
I really thought that one point of the story, Lucy would come out to greet Janice with her own little one (Like Christian the Lion... and I would image Lucy signing "epidural" to the other chimps instead, as they scratched their heads.)
An editorial note: to the team that put this story together, this was an amazingly moving piece, thank you (as well as Janice Carter, again) for telling Sweet Lucy's amazing story, her amazing capacity for love.
That said, I hope no one out there will want them as pets... as they are clearly not meant to be "kept" ... adopt a puppy.

Feb. 28 2010 05:20 PM

Radio Lab, Thank you for this profoundly moving and complex story. May Lucy rest in peace. Janis is a remarkable person.

Feb. 28 2010 04:48 PM

Heartbreaking in so many ways.
Sure, the Temerlins were a product of their time yet it is so hard to make sense of first, the way in which Lucy was snatched from her mother and then her subsequent abandonment by the Temerlins. I was surprised because Harry Harlow had already done his research with Rheus monkeys and attachment:

So difficult to fathom - really, is experimenting on attachment through cruel means really necessary for us to "understand" the very essence of bonding, attachment and development. No, I don't believe it is. Our rigid human-centric perspective (much like the earth is flat and the center of the universe world view) fails even to allow ourselves to nurture the curiosity of our own experiences. . . including befriending our own emotions (as opposed to holding the idea that emotions get in the way) and learning from them. Lucy's story is tragic in every sense. When are we going to stop denying that we humans are a part of nature and that nature is a part of us - we will never conquer nature nor dominate over her. Yet, there are gleams of light along the way. Check this recent article out on whales and consciousness - another tearjerker.

Feb. 28 2010 04:30 PM

I hope that everyone who listens this this fascinating and moving story seriously considers adopting a vegan lifestyle. I'm not saying everyone will want to, but if you were affected by Lucy's story, please think about how many other animals are also raised and used for human food purposes. We don't need to eat animals at all, let alone every day. Just give it some thought please, for Lucy and all her non-human sisters and brothers!

Feb. 28 2010 03:51 PM
Laura Abshire

Please be accurate in your preface to this program. Lucy was not "adopted." This implies benevolence. Lucy was stolen from her mother. While she may have had a comfortable and stimulating life with the Timerlins, she was ultimately abandoned to reconcile her complex human experience with the realities of survival in a supremely dangerous environment. This was a self-indulgent exercise on so many levels and led to the heartbreaking end of a beautiful fellow being.

Feb. 28 2010 02:37 PM

As a reporter, your terms always color the story. There is great irresponsibility in the use of the word "adoption" to describe what happened. We would never call drugging a caring mother and taking her child away from her adoption, this is called abduction and can be judged as criminal in any moral code. Here we are again with a story of a privileged fair skinned couple assuming they could do what is best for a child. I hope they lived to know of her death and their role in it.

Feb. 28 2010 02:16 PM

I don't know anything about Stella Brewer, but this sentence resonated with me: "In truth, Lucy’s whole life was manipulated solely for the benefit of human beings. Her death was probably the only event she suffered that was not manipulated. For her sake can we please just leave it that way?"

It reminds me of how the West perpetually interfered with Middle East, the latest such folly being the American invasion of Iraq. We project our own values onto others, and write our own stories about their circumstances, actions, and consequences. The irony of Brewer's statement is that her own career, reputation, and respect are also derived from "manipulation". It's a manipulation because we have no way of knowing what the chimps really want; we are all just assuming. The same goes for Janis Carter's own career and status. And, also the producers of this very show. This "story" is a big success for their careers, but every story like this is always crafted and "manipulated" to fit what the audience wants to hear. After listening to it, how can we not respect Janis as a hero? It's a great story because it has a mix of tragedy and heroism. A tragedy without a hero is just depressing, and does not make for a good story. There is something fundamental in the way we like our stories to be delivered, just the same way some musical notes are naturally harmonious together to our ears.

Maybe Brewer was just a bitter person who could not take anyone else grabbing the limelight in her area of expertise. Maybe Janis Carter is a self-serving do-gooder who is in denial of the fact that her fundamental approach to rehabilitating Lucy was flawed, and therefore invented the story about how Lucy died. Or, Maybe Brewer is the true hero. Or, maybe Janis Carter is indeed a hero. Who knows?

But the lesson that I take from this story is what Brewer said in the quote above; we are all so self-interested that even the ideas like selflessness and heroism are just more values that we project onto others (in this case chimps) in order to get what we want out of them. That is, we just can't "leave it that way".

Feb. 28 2010 12:51 PM

I heard this story through This American Life. It's the first time I've heard a radio story and cried--much less sobbing uncontrollably, which is what happened. It took me by surprise.

The only thing I can see positive from listening to this story is giving money to, or volunteering for, wild-life rescue/preservation organizations. I hope more people get that takeaway.

Feb. 27 2010 08:28 PM

How did they think this would really end? Of course it was going to end in tragedy...Lucy was groomed for it in her trust of humans. Of course a day would come when she could no longer be contained in a house! What a tragedy that an innocent animal ROBBED from its mother, died what appears to have been a horrible death. When o when will we human animals EVER learn?

Feb. 27 2010 06:11 PM

I think that what feels like betrayal in this story is the gross miseducation that Lucy received. Most parents (human or not) devote their child-rearing time to teaching their child how to live independently. Sometimes that involves foraging for food, and sometimes it involves learning how to drive a car. In this case, though, her adoptive parents taught Lucy the skills needed for one type of life before thrusting her into another. I'm not sure what sort of situation they thought Lucy would be in when she grew up, but as her parents, they had the responsibility to prepare her for it. In a zoo, when a mother refuses to care for her offspring, the zookeepers take over the job. There are (true?) stories about human children being abandoned and raised by animals. But in either of those cases, the children are taught the skills they need to survive in their environment, whether that's a zoo or the wilderness. In this case, Lucy was taught skills that might help her to survive as a member of human society, but then she was put in a completely different situation and expected to adapt. If you think that animals are just as intelligent as humans, it's incredibly cruel, and if you think they are less intelligent, that might even make it worse, since it would presumably be harder for her to change her behavior then.
I think the idea of searching for the place where chimp and human diverge is incredibly interesting, but it comes with a huge amount of responsibility attached. Other animals (Koko the gorilla, or the bonobos described in the last part of the show) have managed to live as adult animals while still interacting with humans and making use of the things they have learned. At least that way, the differences and the similarities between human and animal are respected--and aren't those differences and similarities exactly what the Temerlins were trying to study in the first place?

Feb. 27 2010 06:01 PM

For those who would vilify the Timerlains--they were perhaps products of their time, and they were doing what they thought was the work of science.

Cruelty to animals in the guise of science continues today with millions of animals being tortured daily. Why don't you check out the state of unnecessary animal research that is going on today?

There was an incredible piece on this on the BBC a few weeks ago that I caught in the wee hours of the morning. I can't locate it now, otherwise I would post the link.

The point is that scientists determined 30 years ago that testing chemicals on animals is quite pointless. Still, not only does the practice continue but it has increased since that time. The US government, with your tax dollars, conducts this research.

Why don't you do something to stop that?

Lucy's life is over. It is sad, but you should try to disentangle your emotions from this story and work to help other chimps.

Janis is still working in W. Africa, and she could use support in the work that she does to preserve habitat for wild chimps.

Feb. 27 2010 08:50 AM
Dirty Girl Gardening

This is just an all around, "I love your podcast", comment. I'm sure it's old since you've most likely heard it a million times - but here's one more: "I love your podcast".

Feb. 27 2010 01:23 AM

Thank you to all the commenters who added this link:
Maybe Janice was also foolhardy in her care of Lucy. :(

Feb. 27 2010 12:55 AM

Additional comment to a comment:
"But if Lucy’s story can keep other primates’ cognitive and emotional abilities from being underestimated, then perhaps it was worth it."
That is such crap Colin.
If YOU want to sacrifice YOUR life for scientific knowledge, that is your choice. although I would hope no one would do that. But "sacrificing" someone else's life is just abuse. That's just wrong. I think it is self-evident that animals have tremendous cognitive and emotional abilities and their lives certainly don't need to be ruined to ascertain that.

Feb. 27 2010 12:46 AM

That is just heartbreaking. I hate that those people adopted her. I'm just a more of a naturalist, I guess. I even feel a little worried about making nature out of synch by having pets. I would never breed them. That's why all the pets I've had have come to me. Then I know I'm making their lives better and not making something unnatural. Dr. Frankenstein I am not.
Poor Lucy.
Then the story of Janice- what a heroic and brave person. I'm glad she was there to transition Lucy to the wild. What fortitude she had.

Feb. 27 2010 12:41 AM

I sometimes question the wisdom of humans who inject themselves into the wild. In this case, I'm not sure who was the teacher and who was the student. I think Jane and Lucy were each both the taught and the teacher. I listened to this story while driving home tonight and learned something myself. I learned that is hard to do so with tears in your eyes...

Feb. 26 2010 09:34 PM

I have become a RadioLab addict. Thank you.
My one comment would be to re-iterate Joesph's very first comment above - your RSS feed is terribly slow. Please, please consider off-loading your bandwidth and delivery to a CDN (I work for one if you want more information).

Feb. 26 2010 08:48 PM

The story of Lucy is one of the most moving stories I have ever heard.

We humans seem to have and endless capacity to put ourselves upon a pedestal. Divinely inspired, unique of all of God's creations, etc... Attribute the capacity to love to another species and arguments of anthropomorphizing usually follow.

I don't think the power of this story was how human she became, but how, through her upbringing, we could see her perspective, her thoughts and feelings. Lucy signing "hurt" as she stood outside of Janice's cage coupled with that amazing image of the final embrace is a testament that those feelings that bond us humans are not uniquely our own.

Perhaps if we could all see this perspective we would treat our fellow animals, and maybe even ourselves, a little better. Bravo for airing a superbly crafted show of such an amazing story.

Feb. 26 2010 08:46 PM

Heard this riveting story today, and I must say it was the perfect selection to reflect on after the awful event that occured at Sea World this week.

Feb. 26 2010 08:27 PM

Dear L. I'm virgin new to this site. I'd never heard of Radiolab until I heard this story through This American Life. What make's this story more sappyer than any other. I'm a hard core liberal who's a punk. A very social punk. One who care's about life. I haven't had the chance yet to read everything on this site. Don't have the time really. But what I do have time for is listening to the radio. Free Radio. Now you shouldn't get down on show's like this. NPR is one of the few places where actual news, story's and free listening happens. Granted alot of the endowment's that NPR gets are privately funded for tax purposes, but for many of us earthling's its the only thing we got. So I hope you don't mind if Radiolab submits a verbal story on occasion through This American Life to the rest of us who don't have the funds to purchase Sirius. I hope that you will excuse us for being such saps in listening to public radio in general while working on our computers. I hope that the folks from Radiolab will continue with what they doing.
Boyfriend, don't you know that there are several stations of npr that you can listen too? If you don't like a particular program, with the radio you can surely change the dial? But it's true I shouldn't have responded to you.
But, I'm a PUNK! A sappy PUNK no less. But PUNK I always will be.

Feb. 26 2010 08:06 PM

Wow. What hubris of the doctors! A latent, awful sort of ignorance that is dangerous and foolish. I was outraged through the whole thing, but I still felt for them in a way-- great crafting of story, Radiolab. Mostly, though, I felt for Lucy. This was most definitely a haunting, gut-wrenching story I'm not likely to forget.

p.s. Janice should be sainted.

Feb. 26 2010 07:39 PM

Like others I was completely mesmerized by this story ... I heard it on the This American Life podcast ... This is a powerful story of good intentions gone awry, the selfishness of humans, and the best of humans in the person of Janice ... really a touching story. Thanks for telling it.

Feb. 26 2010 07:28 PM

WOW! I'm still crying. Though I'm sure that the Temerlin's meant well when they first started this horrible experiment, they could have and should have done better by her. Lucy was taken from her mother who was a circus chimp. Not the best environment for any wild animal. I wonder at what her fate would have been there. She was an experiment who became their daughter so they claim. I suppose so with the way so many human parents abandon their human children these days when they get uppity. This is more of a study in human parenthood. They were well educated and advanced in psychology. Sure they "traveled the world" for someone else to take their child off their hands and out of their pocketbook. Didn't they have the means to provide for her? Couldn't they have gotten a grant or used the money for traveling around the world to buy a habitat that they should stayed and maintained. No. They knew that she wouldn't be able to survive overall.
I find it interesting that in their search that they checked out various labs to put her in too. Disgusting. Also about all of these supposed friends of Lucy's who are psychologists. Shame on them too. They all should have done better by Lucy. It took a woman Janice who wasn't a psychologist but a friend of theirs to actually be a friend to Lucy and tried to live a life in the wild with Lucy and other captive chimps. This is true friendship and a person who know's how to love and have compassion for all living beings.
Now if we can only get our government to stop funding NASA and truly study our earth and all of the beings in it.

Feb. 26 2010 06:40 PM
Jad from Radio Lab

To L: you're right. We're going soft.

Feb. 26 2010 04:34 PM

Sad... We hurt so many with our deeds!

Animals, humans etc...
Everyone and everything has a story!

Radio Lab just highlighted this particular one!

I hope the lesson here is that we need to be kind to all things animals and people alike. Just because animals and/or people look different we shouldn't hurt them or exploit them!

Let me leave with saying this:
"The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions"!!

Feb. 26 2010 03:24 PM

I enjoy these heart wrenching stories as much as the next guy, but what is happening to Radiolab? Are you really sure about following this sappy storytelling trend down the shadow of This American Life instead of hanging on to the basic curiosity, SCIENTIFIC inquiries, expert interviews, and unexpected questions that this show was founded upon? These are what made it stand out from all the rest of radio already being produced in this country, and what caught my attention and devotion. Radiolab, please keep pushing the boundaries of content available to radio listeners rather than succumbing to the mindless popularity of emotionally charged human interest pieces.

Feb. 26 2010 02:56 PM

Great program! It raises many questions -- namely, what video format did they decide on?! I have many audiovisual archivist friends that want to know.

Feb. 26 2010 01:59 PM

Another Interesting article about Lucy

Feb. 26 2010 01:49 PM
Alfonso Morcuende

So sad, so touch, so sorry for the story. I had to stay alone for a while. Not doing other thing than thinking about Ian, my son. I need to be next to him now.

P.S.: Sorry for my poor English.

Feb. 26 2010 11:43 AM
Spencer Fern

Why didn't anyone fact-check the "chimpanzees are 5-7 times stronger than humans" bullshit?

Didn't it occur to anyone that, y'know, primates are cool and all, but physics still apply to them?

That claim has never been seriously studied (unless you count dubious reports from the 1920s), and it doesn't make much sense. I expect better of Radiolab than to credulously accept that chimps are just bestially awesome for some reason.

Feb. 26 2010 02:35 AM

Thanks for ruining my evening, radiolab! What a depressing and downright creepy story. It doesn't help that I have a 3 year old daughter (she's human.) Heartbreaking. Seriously.

Feb. 26 2010 01:23 AM

This was an excellent show.

It's my opinion that Lucy's owners did nothing wrong by taking her in. She did, after all, life a much more fulfilling life. That's my two-cents.

Again, great job, Radiolab team!

Feb. 26 2010 12:18 AM

So much good commentary, and so much reactionary emotionalism. From an ethical perspective, the experiment was fraught from the get go. But if Lucy's story can keep other primates' cognitive and emotional abilities from being underestimated, then perhaps it was worth it. We won't get this kind of insight into the blurry boundary between man and chimp by studying chimps in the wild. And if we are to truly respect how small the difference is between man and chimp, we need to verify that in the only way we can - through science. I hope this study will at least heighten the awareness of the long-term implications of primate (and other animal) studies, and what responsibilities we have to them once they experiment is over, or has grown beyond what we think we can manage.

Feb. 25 2010 10:53 PM

This story was portrayed as complex. A experiment in behavior study. A failure on the Temerlins behalf to think out what the consequences might be for Lucy. Euthanasia would have been better for her. Think about it, they made it complex the fact is they didn't think.

Feb. 25 2010 09:23 PM

Heartbreaking, just heartbreaking. What a powerful emotional, yet beautiful story. A story that will shape how I prepare my children for being equipped for what their future may bring. Ensuring they have the right tools, something Lucy's "parents" did not consider. Thank you for sharing.

Feb. 25 2010 09:15 PM

I just read the letter posted anonymously above from Stella Brewer of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust-- yikes! If it's authentic, this sheds a new light on the story. If I'm not mistaken, this Radiolab episode indicates that the Temerlins intended simply to drop Lucy off in the wild. Brewer's letter, however, states that the Temerlins planned to leave her in a controlled environment where she would be comfortable, but that this plan was derailed through oversight on Brewer's part, stubbornness on Carter's, or a combination of the two.

I think we, as casual listeners who just came upon this story via Radiolab, need to be careful in casting judgment upon the Temerlins or anyone else. This is a complex story, and I'm sure everyone involved has a different opinion on what should or should not have happened to Lucy.

Feb. 25 2010 08:03 PM

What a touching story! It still haunts me after 2 days. The betray! The wrongs those people did to her. I as well hope her death came quick.
Lucy’s encountered the worst and the best of humans. I believe, as Gandi did, that there is a direct link between animal rights and world peace. The time will come, when we humans finally evolve out of our arrogant believe, that we above other living beings. They will look back in awe, like we looked back in awe at the Holocaust, and ask “How could we have had let this ever happen” “How could anybody ever justify such suffering?”
Thank you for the story. Sad as it is.

Feb. 25 2010 05:14 PM
kelly mcnichol

I now realize I spend a lot more time in my car...when listening to RadioLab, the program is no over by the time I get home and I don't want to miss even a word of what is being broadcast, so I sit in my car. Of course on more than one occassion end up crying for the emotional impact of a story.

I am an animal lover, advocate yet not a fanatic. I can see where people are connected to animals emotionally and we apply our own logic to their reactions and make a connection. I would never be without an animal...could not even imagine it.

The Lucy story was amazing in so many ways: peoples drive to do the right thing, good intentions gone wrong, the connections made when there seems no logical justification for it.

I appreciate those that brought their lives forward to share...I have learned so much.

These are the kind of life insight that help to expand my own compassion and focus on what is important.

Feb. 25 2010 05:13 PM
Dave Hamel

I was deeply moved by this story and oddly enough just read about the killer whale which killed a trainer at SeaWorld. It seems the more we interact with nature the more we mess things up. Much to think about....

Feb. 25 2010 11:39 AM
Rob McDougall

Absolutely amazing episode, thanks for this.

Can anyone tell me what the piano music is around 33:40? I'm sure it was sampled in something else and I'm tearing my hair out trying to recall what it is!

Thanks :)

Feb. 25 2010 10:10 AM

Bobby (above) I don't know if you'll read this, but what a beautiful and sad comment. How insightful. What did she see in that mirror? This story has haunted me for days. That picture. that poor creature— yes, primate society can be cruel, independently of us. But this kind of betrayal and abandonment and loneliness and sorrow...well, you can see the pain of it in that hug. This story has made me permanently sad, I'm afraid.

Feb. 25 2010 12:07 AM

She WAS simply stuck between both worlds. How utterly lonely.

Feb. 24 2010 07:11 PM

I am grateful for this story-exceptionally well done. The problem with science: it does not tell us what we ought or should do. Lucy was an experiment for the psychologists who adopted her. Experimentation was their goal. They did what felt good for them (I want to experiment...I want to be a "parent" to this being because it fulfills some desire for me, but when it gets too hard, I don't want to be responsible for Lucy's well-being anymore, therefore I will dump her on someone else). I'm saying they were selfish...selfish like everybody who adopts a pet and, when things get tough, drop them off at a shelter. When times got tough, they dumped her with Janice. The psychologists goals were not what was in the best interest for Lucy. Lucy was left alone in a poacher-infested environment after being taught to trust humans. Of course she died the way she did. I don't blame Janice, who was a hero for dealing with the fall-out from the people who experimented on Lucy. The problem with science: it does not tell us what we ought to do or should do.

Feb. 24 2010 05:51 PM

This was such a haunting episode. Beautifully done.

Feb. 24 2010 04:03 PM

To Joseph: This site isn't slow for me; problem must be on your end.

Feb. 24 2010 01:40 PM

A letter to "Animal People" magazine from Stella Brewer, the founder of the chimpanzee rehabilitation center where Lucy was sent:

"ANIMAL PEOPLE in June 2006 published a review of Hurt Go Happy, a novel by Ginny Rorby, said to be based on the true story of Lucy, a chimp who was taught American sign language and was later sent to the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust in Gambia. The review stated as fact that "Lucy was killed by poachers in 1987." The truth is that we have no idea how she died. Illness, a fall, snake bite, or even lightning strike are all more likely causes of her death than being killed by poachers.

Dale Peterson in Chimp Travels was almost certainly paraphrasing Janis Carter, who was greatly responsible for putting Lucy through her rehabilitation ordeal, when he wrote of Lucy that "...her hands and feet [were] brutally severed and her skin simply stripped off..." He certainly quotes Carter in "...We can only speculate that Lucy was killed--probably shot--and skinned..."

Carol Jahme's Beauty and the Beast states as fact that Lucy "was killed and skinned by fishermen."
This myth continues to be repeated and re-quoted from book to book. Whilst it does remain a remote possibility that Lucy was shot, there is not a single piece of evidence to support such a claim.

Lucy was last seen alive in mid-September 1987. Her widely scattered bones, not an entire skeleton, were found by Bruno Bubane, who is still a member of our Gambia staff. He says it was some weeks after her initial disappearance. The remains were partly covered by fallen leaves, with grass starting to grow through them.

The high humidity of the tail-end rainy season and the presence of wild pigs and hyenas mean that a dead animal very quickly decomposes and a skeleton is unlikely to remain undisturbed for very long. As there was a largish male chimp who could be dangerous in the area, the bones that could be readily found were quickly gathered up into a sack and taken to the mainland.

Under such conditions the lack of skin and of the small bones of the hands and the feet is to be expected. To state the lack of them as an indication or "evidence" of her being shot or poached is entirely fanciful.

But reviewer Bev Pervan is right to describe Lucy as "ill-fated." Born into a colony of carnival chimps in Florida, she was reportedly taken from her mother when only two days old. Her owner is said to have acknowledged selling her to the Institute of Primate Studies in Oklahoma with an agreement that Lucy would be returned at the end of the research period. Over the next 10-12 years a number of researchers became familiar with Lucy, but none more so than Maurice Temerlin, who with his wife Jane raised Lucy as a daughter. When Lucy became adolescent and hard to handle, the Temerlins in mid-1977 contacted my father and I, and we agreed that Lucy and Marianne, a companion chimp, could enter the chimp rehabilitation project at Abuko Nature Reserve.

When Lucy arrived, I was heavily involved with trying to integrate a group of chimps into a wild community in Senegal. At that time, wild chimp behavior was not well enough known for me or any one else to realize that this was an attempt more or less doomed from the outset. This work and other personal commitments kept me from ensuring, as I had intended, that Lucy and Marianne occupied an island of 300 acres of chimp habitat with a couple of other chimps for whom rehabilitation was also not an option. Here Lucy would have had her freedoms with chimp friends, but would still have had access to elements of the way of life she had experienced from birth: food, magazines, toys, etc.

Carter, who came as Lucy's caretaker, had no qualms about subjecting Lucy to the rehabilitation process, and was able to document the years of Lucy's difficult adjustment. I say "adjustment," as she never became truly rehabilitated. She remained underweight, and although chimpanzees normally first give birth at about 13 years old, she had not reproduced by the time of her death at 21.

There is not one single person that I know of who does not come out badly in the whole Lucy saga except possibly Jane Goodall, who was very critical of the venture--but somewhat after the event. What a sorry bunch we are: the woman who sold a two day old chimp; the researcher who bought her for one of his students to experiment on; Maurice Temerlin, who conducted the experiment for almost 12 years; my father and I, for not being effective monitors and ensuring that Lucy just retired as I had planned. Perhaps sorriest of all is Carter, for so personally insisting that Lucy should endure the rehabilitation process--which Lucy so obviously found difficult and confusing--for so long. In truth, Lucy's whole life was manipulated solely for the benefit of human beings. Her death was probably the only event she suffered that was not manipulated. For her sake can we please just leave it that way?

--Stella Brewer
Founder and chair
Rehabilitation Trust
P.O. Box 2208
Serrekunda, Gambia"

Feb. 24 2010 11:34 AM

I disagree with the description of the "hug" photo on the program. When I look at that picture, Lucy looks like she is in mourning, and holding on to Janis for comfort.

Feb. 24 2010 11:18 AM
mark oh

Perhaps it is easy for us who have not been there to criticize the Tamerlins from where we are standing. In retrospect, it seem that their decision had been insensitive. I am not sure if we have right to judge them for trying to raise and understand our relationship with animals. I'm not trying to justify what they have done is excusable but I have a feeling that they went through much heartache, if not much greater than any of us would.

What was so important and profound for me was Lucy's ability to love and even demonstrate seemingly forgive humans. Here is Lucy who had lost her only known parents and be stuck in place that she obviously does not feel comfortable and years later she was reminded of humanity through mirror and seeing Janis, far too many humans would have reacted with anger but somehow she was the one who was comforting rather than being comforted for all the things that she lost. If you were to ask me, I would say that she showed 'humanity' far more than many that are surrounding us.

Perhaps truth that lies under is that love, which encompass depth does not belong only to human beings. Forgiveness is an act of strength and intelligence, which can't be done without neither part. Did Lucy comforted Janis possibly out of habit, perhaps, but you can't deny that it was not under best circumstance to achieve knowing her circumstance.

Another amazing story guys, I value and appreciate your search of truth, without being tie down to only one specific discipline or idea, other than truth itself.

Feb. 24 2010 04:03 AM

The Tamerlins didn't 'adopt' Lucy. They stole her from her mother for their own selfish experiment. I wonder if they felt anything at all when they learned Lucy had been killed by poachers.

Feb. 24 2010 02:15 AM

I made the mistake of listening to the TAL podcast in the car. I had to pull over twice because it is really hard to drive through tears.

Feb. 24 2010 12:26 AM

my heart is broke.

I can't even imagine what Lucy must have thought as she gazed into the her mirror that Janice brought, on her return to the Island.

Lucy must seen the reflection of herself, thinned, frail, and fallen hair. a fraught face. a failing smile. a non Lucy.

Her whole life she had been abandoned; and to be stranded on an Island--a social creature--not able to communicate to anyone.

my heart is broke.

Feb. 23 2010 11:20 PM
Thomas Dodson

Hey Guys,

This is my favorite podcast, even beating out TAL.

I had one suggestion/question, though--when are you going to talk with Donna Haraway? She may be lesser known in the hard sciences, but she is kind of the go-to person within cultural studies and science studies for how we think about the differences between primates and humans, particularly how the science surrounding these comparisons is profoundly shaped by our cultural ideas about gender.

She's not just a wacky humanist tilting at scientific windmills. She's very well credentialed, in fact, with degrees in zoology and philosophy; she also currently chairs the History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz. I hope you will consider seeking her out as you continue your monkey business; I think her work would allow you to examine some of your topics from a new angle.



Feb. 23 2010 09:57 PM

Thank you very much for this touching and well done story. It is amazing that just hearing this story has stirred so many emotions inside of me. This is my first exposure to Radio Lab, and you now have a devoted fan. Please keep up the brilliant work.

Feb. 23 2010 09:27 PM

Here here Katherine! Although I think at that time in history people were much more ignorant of what animals were capable of, I find it terribly distressing that human beings are so willing to draw this arbitrary line when it comes to differentiating ourselves from other so called "lower" species. Life in itself is precious, why can't we just respect that?

Feb. 23 2010 08:27 PM

Personally, I am disgusted by posters who say other posters' concern for Lucy and other animals' welfare are misdirected, even "ignorant." Coming from a public health perspective, this is no different from the need for focus groups or needs assessments in community-based research. Lucy and other animals have no way to tell us what they would want or what they would or would not like from humans. It is pretty arrogant (or maybe just American?) of anyone to think that what WE WANT is what others, even animals want. The fact is, you simply don't know what Lucy would want. Judging from the final photo and from the emotional pain she expressed in being separated from her caretakers I'm pretty sure that abandonment is NOT what she wanted. The bottom line is when you force an animal into captivity you take away their choice. You permanently destroy their ability to make meaningful connections with other animals. What is wrong with people/Americans that they have SUCH A HARD TIME appreciating other people, cultures and animals without APPROPRIATING it???

Feb. 23 2010 08:02 PM

Good tale, though one can't help but be a little annoyed by all the emotional quiverings and handwringings in these comments re. the human "selfishness" of "kidnapping" Lucy and so forth.

Supposing that you cared about the welfare of chimpanzees (or what-have-you), you'd see how very necessary Lucy's domesticity and the resulting lesson are to reinforcing our human tendency--sometimes out of concern, though more often out of simple disinterest--to leave other species alone.

Lucy had a chance to experience a life that is generally reserved for superior beings. Her inability to fully engage in our lifestyle is the root of the tragedy (in the truest sense, too!). Her displacement from the wild on the other hand, was not the problem. She saw what life in the wild was, and didn't want it. And can you blame her?

One could argue that she never really had a choice--but if that's true, then she has a significantly reduced capacity for individual agency: she'd be little more than a determinist automaton. And in that case, who cares what happens to her? This may as well have been the story of a tractor or an asteroid or a stopwatch. No: she could reason, and she could judge, and she could choose. Hence the sadness inherent in her decision.

So, anyway, yes: if we're not eating or wearing them, let's leave them alone. At least until such a time as a regimen of genetic improvements can properly uplift them.

Feb. 23 2010 04:09 PM
Mark Horan

Heard this as well on TAL this past week-end. I was a little surprised by my own response to the story of Lucy - to say I was touched by it would be an understatement. The episode was one of the most well produced radio pieces I've heard in some time and while I enjoyed it, it was a tough listen. Kudos to Radio Lab for relating such a sadly wonderful expression of the human experience, as witnessed through the eyes of a non-human.

Feb. 23 2010 02:54 PM

When we're monstrous to our own species, how can we expect anything other than cruelty to other animals. Let's keep evolving: ethics and biology.

Feb. 23 2010 01:05 PM

Ah, we have learned. Everybody seems to see how silly lucy's 'parents' were... leave it to a psychotherapist to get it so terribly wrong to be so egocentric.
lucy's behavior was natural. life does that. humans have a lock on the language, so, like the winners in war, we get to write the history.

Feb. 23 2010 11:47 AM

I think it's important that we all remember that Lucy is not--and never was--human. There is no way to know what she felt, if anything. Perhaps she understood sign language, or perhaps she signed "hurt" because, in the past, when she used this sign she was rewarded with attention. No one should fall into the same trap that the Temerlins did, projecting their emotions on another species. This experiment was irresponsible and ethically questionable, but to prevent this kind of tragedy in the future, we need to understand wild animals on their own terms.

Feb. 23 2010 11:30 AM

WOW - heard this on TAL. Amazing story - I cant get that image of Janis and Lucy out of my head. I agree with Ana - Janis is definitely my new hero!!!

Feb. 23 2010 10:40 AM

Thank you so much for this moving story. Radiolab is one of my favorite programs, but this particular show may have had the greatest impact so far. I teach an undergraduate course on human evolution and plan to have my students listen to this.

Feb. 23 2010 10:03 AM

Facinating story. The final picture in the slideshow id particularly haunting. I love Radiolab podcasts but they are very dark. In fact, I've intentionally slowed my consumption of the podcast because they tend to put me in a funk. Keep doing what you are doing guys, it is great work. I will listen in small doses like when TAL brings them to light.

Feb. 23 2010 09:29 AM

This story will haunt me for a very long time. So very powerful.
Although I think I can understand why the Temerlins did what they did, I couldn't help but think that Lucy's life started and ended in tragedy.
That's not to say that I doubt that the Temerlins loved Lucy very much. Still, I would like to know if they ever regretted the cruelty of snatching Lucy away from her biological mother. Or whether they acknowledged that they might have played a hand in her murder if in fact it was partly due to Lucy's innocent trust in humans. I wonder how the Temerlins viewed their role after learning of how their beloved daughter died. Certainly they both taught Lucy a lot. But what I want to know is, in the end, what did Lucy teach them? (I wish this could be answered in a Radiolab short.)
And ... Janis is my new hero.

Feb. 23 2010 03:02 AM

I also think it should be emphasized that Lucy was kidnapped from her original mother by her “adopted” parents. I wonder what happened to her? How did she feel waking up from her human-perpetrated drugging two days after giving birth to find out she no longer had an infant? What feelings must she have had? How convenient this wasn't part of the "experiment" to see how close to human emotions chimps could have.

Lucy’s kidnapping reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, "Curious George", which I bought for a niece about a year ago. When I sat down to read it with her, I realized it was a kidnapping story in which a colonialist goes to Africa, traps George in a net, and steals him away from Africa, "civilizing" him in the colonist's home country (remind you of any other stories in our history?). It is all very cute and safe in a fantasy story for children, but the reality is cruel and tragic, as Lucy's real life story reminds us. Changing this reality requires bravely confronting our collusion with Lucy’s tragedy through seemingly innocuous stories and cultural myths with which we were raised and hold dear to justify tragedy (war, exploitation, discrimination, inequality of all kinds) and maintain our innocence.

Feb. 23 2010 01:33 AM

A friend and I wept as we listened to the last half of this story friday afternoon. I got online to hear the first half and just read all the online comments. Why does this story unnerve us so deeply? The exploitation of Lucy's innocence and vulnerability is disturbing, to be sure. I agree with the comment that "a study of the pathology of the humans who were involved" gets closer to the more valuable lesson of the "experiment." However, that so many humans contributed to her exploitation and abuse demands that we look at ourselves and our culture and not just single out a few to condemn, as abhorrent as their ethics were. For instance, are any of us who has been to a carnival, a circus or a zoo without responsibility? What is a society that feels these are "family entertainment" and an essential rite of passage for our children? When we take them to see these places and events (or watch on TV, etc.), what are we teaching them and what are they learning? Are they learning to live in harmony and with respect toward other species, or that animals are, fundamentally, for our consumption whether as entertainment, food, trophies, or "scientific" experimentation. What right do we have to take animals from their natural habitat, or to destroy their natural habitat, or to mass-produce them on factory farms?

The idea that we are superior to other species and of hierarchies among people are ideas and behaviors that are deeply ingrained in the histories and cultures of many people, such as the Judeo-Christian, though not all. A serious, frequent and rigorous social self-examination will go much further than throwing stones at the Temerlins, repulsive as they are, to prevent more Lucy's whether human or of some other species.

Feb. 23 2010 01:14 AM

The Lucy story devastated me. I was on my way to the mall happily listening to my Radio Lab podcast -- and by the time I got there I was circling the massive building, crying. Circling around and around The Grove in Los Angeles.. I just didn't see that ending coming in the story. It was just so stunning. Yes. I still managed to go shopping -- but all the time thinking of Lucy's life, shaking my head in disbelief. Thinking about what it means to truly be dedicated to another being's welfare. The tears filled back up as I was staring down at ballet flats at J Crew.

I'm still dazed, flabbergasted, moved by your story of her. I finally got the courage to come see the photos of Lucy and all the emotions came back again. That hug. That beautiful, heart-wrenching hug.

Oh God. The humanity. The Primate-anity of it all...

Thank you.

Feb. 23 2010 12:51 AM

The photo is a modern Pieta. Please urge whomever has the rights to please make it available for reproduction and that the proceeds go to a good cause.

Feb. 23 2010 12:42 AM
Sean Lynch

So beautiful, and so sad. Radiolab is fast becoming one of my favorite radio shows. All of you at Radiolab do such a wonderful job putting together such high-quality programming.

Feb. 22 2010 11:50 PM

Great story. However, the insights about speciation would be very compelling if they were factual. The definition of a species is a very slippery and unsolid one. Most textbooks on biology or evolution make it very clear that although ability to mate and give birth to viable offspring(meaning, your progeny can also reproduce) is in most cases a convenient and sufficient definition for "species", this is not always the case. (For example, some species of fish can mate with closely related species and spawn viable offspring in captivity but not in the wild, or they can spawn viable offsring in the wild, but the progeny's fitness (survival+fertility) is reduced because of stuff that probably bores you). And you will find absolutely NO reputable source claiming that a member of one species will not be attracted to a member of another species. In short, a species is a human construct used for means of classification, and we all know such jobs can be done multiple ways - and there are other criteria that scientists consider when designating something as a distinct species. Our closest evolutionary relative is the chimp and it should be of little surprise that Lucy was attracted to human men.

Feb. 22 2010 10:47 PM

I hopped on the website to look at the hugging photo and feel I have to comment here about the Lucy story. Has anyone seen the recent Planet Earth DVDs? There's footage of a chimpanzee (I'm pretty sure they're chimps) community going to war with a neighboring group, raping females and actually kidnapping and *eating* an adolescent from the enemy camp. Humans usually assume that we have exclusive rights to consciousness - before we "disprove" it to ourselves in some shocking discovery - including malicious behavior. But after watching chimp cannibalism and warfare (and those killer whales torturing the baby seals for that matter) I don't see how one could claim that cruelty is exclusive to humanity. It seems pretty obvious from the story that the other chimps killed Lucy, probably because she was different (just as humans are wont to do). We aren't the only species that uses language, tools, or psychological manipulation. We aren't the only species that kill out of fear, or from lack of empathy. I find this story to be a deep example of symmetry of life on this planet - or rather the self-similarity across species, time, landscape, and dimension. The lesson to learn is how truly related all life-forms are. The pretty bits we like to look at and the dark and awful bits too. Deciding that this is a story about mean humans and innocent chimps perpetuates the condescending distinction that we are fundamentally different from them, or from anything else that eats and breathes and grows on this earth. I think our connections are far more complex, which, in the end, is what I think the Temerlins were trying to explore as well - in their devastatingly myopic way.

Feb. 22 2010 09:25 PM

At the end all I can figure is that the Tamerlins are monsters. They compared Lucy to being their daughter and then left her in the jungle alone. I also feel they should be prosecuted criminally.

Feb. 22 2010 08:42 PM
Leza Zaman

Hi Jad and Robert,
Just wanted to say that Lucy's story was just devastating. It's heartbreaking. I feel outrage not just at poachers or whoever was responsible for her death, but also at her human "parents" - who loved her but whose fostering of Lucy undoubtedly had a hand in her terrible death. So very sad!

Feb. 22 2010 08:26 PM

Several years ago I read Russ Rymer's 'Genie' after having seen the NOVA segment 'Secret of the Wild Child', the story of horribly abused girl who became a science experiment; both the television show and the book left me devastated. Hearing Lucy's story reminded me of that tragedy; I am again in tears.

Feb. 22 2010 07:30 PM

Just emotionally destroyed by this. I cried harder than I have in months. I can't understand why anyone would harm such a beautiful, intelligent creature, let alone perform such a harrowing psychological experiment. There has to be some way to stop the trade in great ape parts. It just sickens me.

Feb. 22 2010 07:04 PM

All I can say is after listening to the story of Lucy, I felt ashamed to be a human, but glad that I for one don't have the narcissistic personality disorder to partake in such a cruel flint-hearted activity. And proud of those humans that show the progressive courage and compassion to help primates in the wild and sanctuaries.

Feb. 22 2010 06:11 PM

I did a screen capture of the photo of the hug. Every time I look at it, I see an intelligent, living creature (Lucy) expressing her pain, sorrow, and abandonment. It's heart breaking, just heartbreaking. I just cry every time I look at, it's so powerful.

Feb. 22 2010 06:04 PM

It made me seriously wonder whether our culture has done the same thing to us, by making us live in a way that hides our true nature. We run around chasing things that ultimately have nothing to do with our natural selves, and only serve to distract us from that which is truly real, for us.

Feb. 22 2010 06:01 PM


Feb. 22 2010 05:12 PM
Chris Brennan

For everyone looking for the hug photo - it appears as the last image in the slideshow.

Feb. 22 2010 05:04 PM

I have just finished listening to this podcast. Certainly the story was an emotional one, but I took away several other things from it. Firstly, it seemed to me that while her parents "domesticated" her (Lucy) for "experimental" purposes, they also abandoned and neglected her. Certainly, raising a child (as a child) and then abandoning it, is semi-criminal. Drawing an inference that domesticating an animal to live and understand itself to be human-like, then abandoning it, should also be somewhat criminal. It seems to me that her parents, at the end of the experiment, treated Lucy just as another case file. When they were done, they abandoned her. Sure, one of them stayed in the forest with her before abandoning her fully- but that in no way mitigates the fact that they raised an animal like a human, exploited it psychologically, and then dumped it upon obtaining whatever results they sought. The reason why this animal was killed, was only because it was an animal that was taught to not act "animal-like." It seems, to me, that a lot of blame should go to her "parents." But for them not raising this animal to approach humans, Lucy would not have abandoned her animalistic tendencies, and might have survived longer by using those impulsive and responsive behaviors that animals learn in their natural enviornment.

Feb. 22 2010 04:41 PM

Thanks for sharing your story Janice, very powerful.

Feb. 22 2010 04:34 PM

Would you provide a high rez version of the Janis & Lucy photo or perhaps add it to an online store (for fundraising etc)? I'd like a print. Just a shattering story.

Feb. 22 2010 04:03 PM

I don't think the Temerlins are the worst people in the world. That's not the point. They were scientists, and they probably loved Lucy as much as they could, but feared her when she became strong enough to easily kill them by accident (remember the most recent Chimp owner who loved her Chimp and ended up having her face eaten off?) The point that I got from this tragic story, and from other RadioLab stories like "Fu Manchu", is that monkeys are more than just "animals" (read: beings that we can ethically keep in zoos and the like because they are not "persons"). Monkeys are intelligent beings who now seem to me to be nearly, essentially, human. I can't take the fact that they are in zoos anymore. I used to like to watch them sitting around in their pretend "natural habitat", but now it feels dirty. I wonder if anyone is working on this issue - getting monkeys out of zoos? Or has an interesting response as to why they should be in zoos? I feel like a great injustice is being done.

Feb. 22 2010 02:18 PM

Hell will freeze over when I buy a book written by any of the folks who were invovled with the Chimp Lucy. I was infuriated when I listen to this story (I was familiar with it). Their selfish self indulgent poor science, scientifically flawed from start to end, self absorbed misguided misuse of a wild animal imposed upon Lucy a life of imprisonment, imposition, victimization and ultimate tradegy verging on sadistic intellectual curiosities. They said "Lucy - she was their child.' What loving parent would go out of their way to watch their child masturbate. The answer is simple - none-unless you are just plain weird. Thank god we have the likes of Jane Goodall (and others who I would give my money too) who really empathise and commit their lives to these precious creatures. The authors "rellocation" of Lucy was no better than those people who turf out their cats and other pets, leaving them to fend for themselves, when they move on and is indicitive of misguided people who decide they would quite like an exotic animal as a pet. I hope the justified guilt of the authors actions rot their minds for ever. I for one will not contribute my money to their profit and I feel no sympathy for their sorrow.

Feb. 22 2010 02:14 PM
Turtles To Start

Truly emotional. Abandonment, forgiveness, acceptance, obedience, love, self-control, compassion, empathy. what an amazing animal--what a lesson to be learned for all humanity.

Feb. 22 2010 01:17 PM
Leonard Ritter

To the self-appointed defendants of Lucy: please calm down. We are glorified monkeys ourselves, and as such we tend to make mistakes. Although this is one of them, it still serves the purpose to teach.

Please do not only focus your compassion on the victim, but feel also for the light skinned sapiens monkeys who wanted to connect with another species. I believe that it is still a noble intent, even if it didn't turn out the way they hoped.

Feb. 22 2010 12:38 PM
robert puglia

i cannot reconcile the temerlin's understanding of the connections between us and the apes with their stunning heartlessness. i wonder if they could have been taught to communicate with the humans.

Feb. 22 2010 12:23 PM

My spouse and I listened to Lucy's story together and found it hard to speak for a while. He still refuses to look at the photo for fear of total meltdown: Lucy and Janis, both trying to repair what cannot be repaired but making something beautiful in the process. Janis is some kind of a genius or a saint or both. Hers is a very rare kind of work: the kind that matters.

Feb. 22 2010 11:40 AM

I finally listened to the last few minutes of this radio-cast this morning. Even tho I left it on a high note last night when Lucy handed Janis the leaf, I knew where this story was headed. Lucy's death began when she was taken by selfish, greedy 'in-humans' from her drugged mother. In the end, she was slaughtered by selfish 'in-humans' after enduring years of grief. Are humans capable of learning from the terror and torture of their own selfish greed?

Feb. 22 2010 09:38 AM

I totally still love Radiolab though. I credit it with a gift to tell such a powerful story and move us all so much.

Feb. 22 2010 06:49 AM

I once tried to tell my friends to listen to Radiolab to nurture their minds and enlighten their spirits. After Lucy I have felt so saddened and have been reminded with all the amazing things that humans do, we are also so incredibly cruel and self-serving.

Feb. 22 2010 06:47 AM

Listening to Lucy's interactions with her human parents, teachers and friends I had a sense of another dimension of life -- a sense of connectedness across species. It's as if the specific forms of the various species cloaks the same underlying kernel of universal life that drives us all. I do not blame the couple that raised her for her tragic end. If Lucy was killed, her killer was probably driven by fear, ignornance, callousness or just the need to earn money by poaching. But it is very sad for a trusting, loving being to fall victim to a being driven by baser instincts.

For me, this story had a little of the flavor of "The call of the wild," esp. when Lucy left Janis to go with the other chimps "without looking back."


Feb. 22 2010 02:38 AM

don't know where to find the pictures, but you should be able to download the slideshow video from

Feb. 22 2010 12:57 AM

This story was huge, difficult, mesmerizing, and tragic. One in which every player plays his or her part, and we, the listeners, are broken, struggling to find our way out through catharsis. By the end I was nearly frozen with my heart beating powerfully wanting to illuminate the darkness. Now, two hours later I feel the oddest pairing of despair and gratitude — the desire for a kind of intelligence unknown.

We humans understand so little about ourselves, as Carl Sagan wrote in his last book, "Shadows Of Our Forgotten Ancestors," which he co-authored with his wife Ann Druyan. We're orphans, left alone on a mossy path, here to raise ourselves. Often it seems an impossible task. Then, on such occasions when a frail and crippled truth arrives in my kitchen, at night, through the inventiveness of radio, I understand, as I never have before, Mr. Sagan's desire for optimism.

This is a story I won't forget. Thank you for putting it together.

Feb. 21 2010 11:47 PM

I sat in the car for 15 minutes just to hear the end of this story. I can't believe the "parents" of this chimp. How could they turn from her so quickly? To go from being her only world to nothing? I am deeply saddened by their behavior, which can only be called reckless, insensitive, irresponsible, heartless. RIP Lucy, wherever your soul may be.

Feb. 21 2010 11:31 PM

I had to pull over as I was driving early this evening and still cannot get my head around the barbarous treatment of this animal for the so called "enlightenment" of two very frightening narcissists. All of this was cruel and inhuman beyond measure-from end to end. Did these two learn nothing about the extremes of inhumanity from WWII??? Is there no consequence or accountability for them?

Feb. 21 2010 11:23 PM

and anyone who is reading this should go back and see maggie's post, which includes the same link i'm posting

Feb. 21 2010 11:12 PM

What an incredible story. I heard it on Sat. while sitting in my vehicle trying to get up the energy to do some work on a pasture fence. Today, the story was rebroadcast while I was out and about. When I got home, I found this website. I can't describe the emotions I felt when I saw the picture mentioned in the broadcast. I was overwhelmed and had to leave the room.

Feb. 21 2010 11:11 PM

the real end of the story?

Feb. 21 2010 11:07 PM

To access slide show you just click the arrow. It's very slow.

Feb. 21 2010 10:35 PM

To Maggie, you can't pay any attention to that Stella Brewer--there's another whole bizarre angle of this story, in the person of that Stella Brewer who was quite jealous of Janis and was always out to undo her. She will always bad mouth and belittle Janis at every turn.

Feb. 21 2010 10:34 PM

can someone tell me how to access the slide show -- do i have to download the video??

Feb. 21 2010 09:21 PM

I think like many others I was driving when I heard this story. I broke down in tears. As sad as the story was, I appreciate the great work being done by Radio Lab and NPR. You would never find something this well done on television. Thank you.

Feb. 21 2010 09:17 PM

An amazing, heartbreaking story. Wonderful job, RadioLab. I cried even before seeing the photo that was more devastating than I could have imagined. The only comfort I have found are the comments above - so many share my outrage and the belief that the Temerlins should be prosecuted and we should all boycott their bloody book. To engage in such an experiment, OK, but then to just abanodon Lucy to a life of incomprehensible suffering, not to mention that her terrible end was all but unexpected, given how vulnerable her upbringing had made her. Not even the amazing Janice could have saved her. What a great reminder of the false dichotomy between what is human and what animal - in us and in animals.

Feb. 21 2010 08:56 PM
tom in no cal

I turned the story on accidentally while making my usual Sunday salad. Lucy's story is so tragic, just tears your heart right out through your eyes; Like a child, I wish I could make Lucy's stay on Earth end differently.

As we all sense in our bones, humans will destroy the entire Earth, top to bottom, side to side. That's our nature. Every one of us feels it's our right and our duty to bring more human children into the world when there are already so many more than should ever try to make this tiny planet home. Our animal cousins don't stand a chance. If Lucy's parents hadn't been taken into captivity, it's fairly certain, they would have been poached, skinned and eaten as Lucy was in the 70s. There's just no space left for them.

Feb. 21 2010 08:42 PM
Renee in FL

I had just arrived at Petsmart to buy food for my cats and dogs when this story came on the radio. I sat in my van and listened to the whole story. It shook me up so; I don't know if I can look at the photo after reading the other comments. It's good to know there are other folk out there equally devastated by what happened to Lucy. We need to get together and DO something. HURT CRY STORY

Feb. 21 2010 08:01 PM

I was listening toLucy's story on Sunday 2/21 .as I was pulling in to my driveway.I sat in the car and listened to the whole thing. The seeming cluelessness and/or downright lack of compassion and ethics on the part of the scientists involved is abominable!
I agree that they should be brought up on criminal charges.
The most heartening thing is that so many people were as upset with the Temerlins as I was. I would never want to read Temerline's book. He might actually get royalties from the publisher to aid in his "research"
on other victims. Excuse my rant but I have to get this off my chest. What about zoos?? Some of the best world zoos have wonderful caretakers. Why did they decide to abandon her just like that??? If she was like their "daughter"
then I certainly hope they don't have children of their own.
I would love to see a followup article or program about the Temerlines' reactions to these letters..Let them defend themselves in open debate on the radio?? (I'm sure they'd LOVE that.)
I have such high regard for the poor ex graduate student who tried so hard to help the poor animal. I wonder if she is going to write a book??

Feb. 21 2010 07:45 PM

I too was in my car when I heard this story on NPR, and sat in a parking lot riveted until the end. How very sad. Lucy deserved far better from the people who benefited from her intelligence, trust and cooperation.
I have been deeply saddened recently by several stories of severe cruelty to our fellow animals, and this story reminds me that intentional torture and abuse are not the only ways that humans, the most dangerous species on the planet, inflict pain on helpless creatures. I find it comforting to read the comments from other like-minded people who care. I am wondering if it would be possible to create a network of citizens in every community, like Neighborhood Watch, who take on the responsibility to actively look for and report animal abuse. They could have a phone # that is widely known so that other people would know who to call, and could call anonymously without having to give their name the way you do if you call the police or Animal Control. Just a thought.

Feb. 21 2010 07:37 PM
Patrick Brown

Thank you Janis for doing the right thing, for symbolizing the better attributes of humans while others were content to languish in their indifference...

Feb. 21 2010 07:33 PM
Prentiss Williams

This story was devastating. I knew it would end badly, as these attempts to turn wild animals into pets invariably do, but I was completely unprepared for the visceral impact this story had on me. The anger and sadness are overwhelming - I can't stop crying for thinking of Lucy forlornly signing "hurt" to Janice Carter over and over... just haunting. And for those that excuse the Temerlins by claiming they didn't "mean" to hurt Lucy - well, drunks don't "mean" to kill anyone when they get in the car do they? These "scientists" should have considered the long-term implications before they made the decision to take a newborn chimpanzee (an animal that can live 30 or 40 years in captivity)from its mother. But no, they just wanted to try and raise it as a human just to see what would happen. Such shameful callousness and creepy selfishness - I certainly hope they never had any human children of their own - these people wouldn't even be fit to have a goldfish in a bowl!

By the way, this was another great production by Radiolab. I've been a faithful listener since I discovered it. They never fail to produce incredible stories that I can't stop listening to. I'm just grateful that most of their stories aren't this sad!

Feb. 21 2010 06:57 PM
Priscilla Ballou

I just heard this story on the local NPR station, and it broke my heart. Those people should be ashamed of themselves. They used Lucy and betrayed her. Where were their ethics? They showed no respect for Lucy and cast her aside when she became inconvenient. What they did is sinful. Absolutely sinful. And I don't use that word lightly. In some ways it's worse than parents who abuse human children because they had greater power over Lucy than they would over a human child. They abused that power, plain and simple. Their example is horrifying.

Feb. 21 2010 05:13 PM
Oscar Narváez

When will human beings, especially those in Academia stop playing with nature? The tamarind's should be investigated for cruelty against animals, where is PETA? RIP Lucy. Great Job RadioLab, keep up the good work!

Feb. 21 2010 04:38 PM

Absolutely heart rending. I understand the curiousity which initiated the Temerlins' experiment. I don't think they intended to hurt Lucy, but rearing her as human made her ill equipped to survive in the wild. Despite the good intentions, humans should not keep chimps as children; we do them a horrible disservice.

Feb. 21 2010 04:19 PM

I found the Temerlin's behavior astounding. They seemed almost autistic in their inability to feel the pain of another creature who was so similar to them. Their narcissism was only balanced by the selflessness of Dr. Janis Carter who spent years of her life living in highly unpleasant conditions, indeed willing to cage herself for the benefit of these abused animals. The Temerlins illustrate the banality of evil and Dr. Carter shows that real heroes are all around us.

Feb. 21 2010 03:56 PM

How can anyone who sees or hears about primate's human-like intelligence and behavior can doubt that they should have the same basic rights as Homo Sapiens ?

Some will accuse me of anthropomorphizing chimps, but as the saying goes: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck” or in this case a "Person"

Feb. 21 2010 03:54 PM

Great work guys! This one of the best RadioLabs you have put out. It has made it into my top 5 RadioLab podcasts, and will probably be a permanent fixture on my iPod along with Musical Language, AV Smack-down, and Memory and Forgetting. Thanks for doing such great work.

Feb. 21 2010 03:48 PM

Heart-breaking story. The Temerlins with utterly without conscience from the get-go.

Feb. 21 2010 03:26 PM
Leandra Leal

I cried even before I saw the picture online. Upon seeing it I can only agree that it is, "haunting."

Feb. 21 2010 01:07 PM

The saga of Lucy was tragic enough but the follow up story from the Great Ape Project was even more so. Language is the greatest defining line between the primates and GAP has obliterated that boundary. They are literally creating a microcosm of life that raises even more ethical and moral questions that the "experiment" with Lucy raises. We cannot continue to imbue ourselves into nature without fully examining the repercussions of our actions. Kanzi's imprisonment is no different than Lucy's.

Feb. 21 2010 12:54 PM

Another AMAZING hour! Fascinating stories. With lots to think about ...

PS. Will you EVER have a PayPal button for donations at some point?? I want to donate but won't until you've got a PayPal button ... it can't be that hard, can it?

Feb. 21 2010 12:22 PM
Gemma Quinn

Can't set aside blame here, as one other "Gandhi-esque" listener put it. Does no one else see that devising an experiment to see how "human" a chimp can become and then discarding it when the experiment is over was possibly the most cruel and mis-directed of energies? Quite sorry to say, but the story, however well done, was horrifying. The image of Lucy found minus her hands and feet lying next to the "cage" was one that I won't likely be able to get out of my mind for quite some time.

Feb. 21 2010 09:20 AM
david m

sitting in my truck, tears streaming down my face when i should have been out on the slopes skiing 15" of new snow,but to go skiing seemed so trivial. this story hurt me in such a profound way!!

Feb. 21 2010 02:08 AM

Wow. This story of Lucy is, for me, one of those profound stories that alter my heart and mind and I'm different after the story is over. Thanks again, RadioLab. I smiled, laughed, cried, was angry. Setting aside blame and circumstance, this chimp known as Lucy was an amazing, trusting Being.

Feb. 21 2010 02:02 AM

I am sickened almost daily by the horrific abuse we inflict on our fellow Earthlings. This won't be the first time I have lost sleep over such issues, and I doubt it will be the last. However, it is good that the story was aired, in the hope that it will help to awaken even one of the listeners to a more humane lifestyle.

Feb. 21 2010 12:52 AM

I'm sorry. Yes, it's a heartwarming story with a tragic end, but it could have been worse. It's stupid to think that just because chimpanzees are cute and human-like, it is safe to be around them. It's naive and ignorant—even arrogant—to anthropomorphize animals and manipulate them in order to study them. The people that stole Lucy are idiots. This is what could have happened to them and Jane (warning, graphic image):

Feb. 20 2010 11:11 PM

Feb. 20 2010 11:04 PM

This is a heartbreaking story for Lucy and the humans alike. Think hard before you cast blame.

The vitriol in these comments directed at the Temerlins and other caretakers only cheapens the notions of communality and shared emotion that these stories can arouse in us. It can't have been easy for any human parent to relinquish an intelligent, living creature, let alone one as endearing as Lucy.

Don't reduce the grand, raw ambition of these experiments in inter-species communication by vilifying humans "who ought to know better." Radiolab is telling us a moving story, but there are no characters of good or evil here. And that can be hard to accept.

Feb. 20 2010 10:07 PM

Further information about this and other chimps raised by people can be found in the book Next of Kin, by Roger Fouts who taught Lucy sign language. It's a must read for anyone interested in this topic.

Feb. 20 2010 09:24 PM
Don J

I was very troubled by the Lucy story. Imagine the life she had making tea and having Gin and tonics. With the mental capacity of a young child. Only having to mature physically and not able to mature into the human examples that surround her. For myself that would be very fus- straighting not able to fully express yourself or be completely understood. Imagine locking up a teenager in your home and treating them like and eternal child. An denied any healthy social and natural sexual development. I would have taken apart the house as well.
Lucy was just be a chimp and was introduced to some really cool stuff, modern comforts, then sent out into the wild without any of those comforts.
I can not imagine sleeping outside in the dark in a jungle after the experiences of having a bed. Lucy, was terrified. I commend the women who sacrificed her life to help that hurt soul - lucy.

It would really be great if we could figure it out. How to treat and respect all living creatures. And not from the perspective: that we humans know best.

Maybe the best way to involve ourself with gimps is to raise them in social groups. They go to work with humans during the day and go home to their families at night. Instead of owners and trainers getting payed for the gimps work the gimp and his social group get paid. That way they could still be gimps and not have to try to be human.

Feb. 20 2010 09:21 PM

I have to say I feel ashamed to be a member of the human race- teaching a wild animal to trust people and then get murdered.When animals look at us, do they see the real evil ?
I will never forget this story, ever.

Feb. 20 2010 09:14 PM

I also was saddened to tears from this story. I'd heard the story before. I believe there's a documentary showing Janice return to the island in Gambia. Janice is an amazing human being. She tried to make some of the pain for Lucy go away. The Tamerlins abandoned their 'daughter' who knew nothing of the world but them. And, I am sure that Lucy never really recovered from that pain. She kept signing to Janice that she was 'hurt'. The thing to remember is and that is so sad is that we take advantage of, mistreat, abuse and abandon all kinds of animals daily - in homes, cities, farms, circuses, research labs and even some zoos. Many animals are in pain. We want dogs, cats, birds, horses, elephants, tigers, cattle, deer, lions, seals, gorillas, polar bears, wolves, etc. to 'behave' in a manner we expect, anticipate and approve of. We use whips, hooks,ropes, electric shock, chains and cages. Lucy was raised like a human child and then abandoned by her parents. This occurs daily too.

Feb. 20 2010 09:14 PM

I was glued to the radio as I listened to the story of Lucy. In the end I was a mix of emotions. I was angered by the ignorance of her original owners, happy that Lucy had atleast one person who was dedicated to her and in tears at how Lucy lost her life. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with chimps and with Dr. Jane Goodall and I know Chimps are more then just animals. They are incredible beings and not something we humans should make pets or treat cruelly. I hope listeners truly got that exotic animals especially apes are not meant to be pets or are disposable. Thanks Radiolab for the great piece!

Feb. 20 2010 09:13 PM
Mark Davis

what an amazing story. this is some of the best radio I have ever heard. can I find a larger picture of the hug anywhere?

Feb. 20 2010 08:54 PM

This story about Lucy brought me to tears. Then it made me very angry. Very upset. I will be haunted by this for a long time.

Feb. 20 2010 08:13 PM

What a sad story, very well told. What a great program this RadioLab is.

Feb. 20 2010 08:02 PM

I have been haunted by Lucy since hearing her story. I would like to help Janis Carter and her work in Gambia with chimp relocation and human education- is there a link to an organization? What of the offspring of Lucy? In the article in the Smithsonian it mentions nothing about the photo- where can one find it?

Feb. 20 2010 07:03 PM
William B

Beautiful story. Note to producers: Radiolab is a true gem and deserves a site which doesn't take two fill minutes to load.

Feb. 20 2010 06:57 PM
Listener in CT

Thank you to Radiolab, NPR and This American Life and all those producers for allowing us to hear this awesome story. I am glad it has stirred so many emotions- gives me faith in humanity. It was a tragic story and difficult to listen without judging... must remember not to throw stones. Peace.

Feb. 20 2010 06:41 PM

This is a very haunting program...I just heard the story of Lucy on "This American Life" and am so saddened. I remember hearing of Lucy several years ago, but didn't know the whole story until now. It is incredibly unfortunate that some unscrupulous scientists take advantage of other species in this manner. The people involved should have been aware of the long-term consequences of raising a chimp (i.e. the chimp would become too large to handle easily). Shame on them. Hopefully, scientists who are working now will learn something from this story. This episode was well-done -thank you. I will not forget this story any time soon.

Feb. 20 2010 06:37 PM


Feb. 20 2010 06:28 PM

Very interesting story, and very well done. But a lot of the comments in here about how "evil" the researchers were simply reveal the ignorance/narrow-mindedness of the posters.

The underlying experiment was worth doing (even if the methodology may have been flawed), if only because it evidences the very narrow "gap" between humans and the higher primates. And trying to reintroduce Lucy to her native environment may have been the "best" of more-or-less "bad" choices. (Chimps are enormously strong, compared to humans. What should have been done: Put Lucy "to sleep"?) Finally, Lucy was killed by another primate (a human) -- just like a lot of humans are killed by their fellow primates every day. (And some chimps are killed by their fellow chimps.) So in the end, Lucy's life, and her leaving of it, was another piece of evidence that the two species are not all that different.

Anyway, terrific program - as evidenced by the intensity of the responses in here.

Feb. 20 2010 06:20 PM

Had to pull my car over and cry my eyes out. Thanks for such a touching story.

Feb. 20 2010 06:15 PM

The story of Lucy, the chimpanzee who acquired language was heartrending. As a psych student, I studied Lucy's achievements in grad school, and remember that the professor remarked on the questionable ethics of the project. But until now I had no idea that she had been so callously used and essentially abandoned to a foreign and difficult life. Everything was taken from her: first her true mother, then her lifelong family, next her entire adopted species--which included the loss of anyone able to understand her language--and, finally, her life. Actually I think a study of the pathology of the humans who were involved in these events would be quite useful to social psychologists. If the Tamerlins are still living, I wonder if they realize that they'll be remembered more for their treachery, than any "research."

I was so haunted by Lucys story that I did some searching on the net and found this different, and very interesting account of Luci's end, which I think, given the location, climate, and circumstance, may hold some truth. This alternative account is somewhat consoling, maybe because in it Luci is not directly undone by her trust in humans.
I also learned that Jane Goodall, at least, finally spoke out, although too late, against Lucy's treatment and later "rehabilitation."

It will be a while before I am emotionally able to handle your website picture of Lucy's loving farewell hug to the only world she knew.

Thank you for this show.

Feb. 20 2010 06:03 PM

Over the years, I've listened to radiolab on and off. Today, as I was driving home, the story of Lucy came on. I was lucky enough to hear it from beginning to end. I logged onto this website, for the first time ever, just to see the photo of Lucy and Janis. I stared at it for 10 minutes rethinking the story I had just heard told. I am going to subscribe to the radiolab podcasts from now on, so that I never miss another story like that of Lucy and Janis. I too would love to own a copy of the photo if possible. Thank you for converting me in a future avid listener.

Feb. 20 2010 06:01 PM
glenn morangie

Mark, you might be a happier person if you worked on your spelling just a little bit. In no way did Jane throw Lucy "out with the trash."

Feb. 20 2010 05:44 PM

After hearing Lucy's story, I am moved both by sorrow and rage. I believe "people" like the Mengles' (oh right the Tamerlins) should be considered a burden to society and dropped off in the jungle with a flint, a knife and our best wishes. It's more than they gave poor Lucy who was neither fish nor fowl, but a child of man.

Feb. 20 2010 05:40 PM
V. Moncayo

I sat in the driveway listening until the end of the story and am devastated at what happened to Lucy and how easily she was given up by her 'parents'. My heart is breaking! What a magnificent creature she was. I'm so very sorry that selfish humans failed her, but so in awe of Janis Carter, who did her very best to reintegrate her back into her natural world. Thank you for this story, torturous as it was to listen to. I hate to think of what her end was like. Lucy, descansa en paz.

Feb. 20 2010 05:35 PM

This episode really, really makes you think. We are so close to these animals in so many ways, ways that we choose to regard as inherently human. This was one of the most intriguing episode to date.

Feb. 20 2010 05:31 PM

The people to blame for this entire farse is Temerlin and Jane. They took a creature and changed it's entire natural instinct and thought process. Knowing far in advance the creature would mature and be likely hard to raise.
There answer,,, throw it out with the trash. They disgust me.. No difference than child abuse...Or animal neglect

Feb. 20 2010 05:27 PM
Lyle Parks

Oh yes, we all do enjoy a story with a happy ending. This story begins with a seeemingly happy beginning and tragically ended on a sad note.
Unfortunately, people continue to make the same mistakes, thinking that all will end well when they tamper with nature. Let this be a lesson for all that witness this unhappy story and remember to keep your pets to dogs and cats and leave it at that. Leave these wild creatures to the wild, where they belong.

Feb. 20 2010 05:26 PM

I really feel bad of what happened to Lucy. What really bothers me is that there are people that take animals from their natural habitat, and then dispose of them when they can’t handle them. These poor animals are then confused and don’t know how to survive on their own.

Feb. 20 2010 05:17 PM

Whenever I hear of an act of animal cruelty, I grieve prfoundly - then do what I can for the animals that I can help. I believe in the motto: Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. Right now I can help abandoned and abused animals in my own community through volunteering at the local shelter. It's something. I do this in memory of Lucy and those other creatures who are harmed by thoughtless people - but I also do this in honor of people like Janis Carter who give unselfishly to other creatures.

Feb. 20 2010 04:55 PM
Jane Holm

Our capacity as humans to manipulate others for self-centered reasons and motives doesn't limit itself to each other: a dog owner abandons a frightened dog because it doesn't act right; a wolf is raised in a fenced-in back yard; parrots are captured, then dumped when they start plucking out their feathers. After listening to This American Life's Radiolab segment and the rest of the parenting going awry stories, I couldn't help but reflect again on the harsh lives of some of the children I've taught, and how much they need to be treated decently, not manipulated or abandoned. We have many "Lucys" in the world. My hope is that her story went out to so many of us, and stopped us in our tracks (I'm glad I wasn't driving) to startle us back to our roots: why we are human and what responsibility that means. Much to ponder. Thank you, NPR, This American Life, and Radiolab.

Feb. 20 2010 04:52 PM

The story of Lucy illustrates the complex and rich inner life of one of our closest relatives. While other non-human animals may be less closely related, they too have emotions and thoughts that humans are only beginning to understand.
Humans cause unimaginable suffering to other species for our own selfish interests. Perhaps some day we will acknowledge the rights of other species to exist without our abuse and will rethink our practices of factory farming, animal experimentation etc.

Feb. 20 2010 04:52 PM

I listened to the Lucy program via This American Life and was profoundly moved by the story. The devotion of Janis Carter to Lucy and to other chimps makes the story even more profound.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Feb. 20 2010 04:37 PM
john b

can someone tell me how to access this hug photo?

Feb. 20 2010 04:31 PM

Thank you for this heart-rending story.
It is so important for us all to see/experience animals as special, unique beings just as we see ourselves.
And though Lucy's journey through life was painful to hear, it does remind us of how we need to think about and care for the animals that share the planet with us.

Feb. 20 2010 03:45 PM

Wow! NPR has done it again with their carefully edited on-air narrative of Lucy the chimp. I kept driving the country roads of Chatham county until the story was finish because I did not want to lose the momentum. A shocking ending. What a stirring account of human and chimp interaction. We have so much to learn from each other. I will never forget that haunting image of Lucy and Jane hugging. Thanks again NPR for another beautifully narrated story.

Feb. 20 2010 03:40 PM
Daniel Kacvinski

It is a shame that we as humans want to figure out the universe, and then when done with that, just discard what we are done with. The Tamerlins should be ashamed. Lucy grew to be a beautiful chip with real "human" emotions and feelings. Thank you Radiolab and This American Life for shedding light for all to learn from others mistakes.

Feb. 20 2010 03:31 PM

Thank you for such a great story and the photos. My heart aches for the pain we humans inflict on our fellow travelers in this world. What a show and what a photo - I wish I could have hugged Lucy and Janis.

Thank you again.

Feb. 20 2010 02:48 PM

This story completely blindsided me. I had no idea it would end in an act of animal cruelty the likes of which I have never heard.

Feb. 20 2010 02:46 PM

The Tamerlins KNEW that chimps are extremely powerful creatures when adults. Once Lucy had reaced that stage, they could no longer have her, but the damage had been done. They also KNEW that chimps are sentient beings. Their whole project was based upon falsehood. Can they live with that shame? To answer my own question: obviously, for they are capitalizing on it.

Feb. 20 2010 02:34 PM
Kate A

A sad, beautiful, horrific story. I was amazed at how the "parents" could walk away, yet the "caretaker" stayed. It really touched me -- sat in my car for a full 10 minutes to hear the end so I didn't miss a word. RIP, Lucy ... and Janis, bless you.

Feb. 20 2010 02:30 PM
charlotte katz

Tamerlins took an infant chimp from her mother, a circus chimp they'd drugged with a Coke. what happened when the mother woke from the anesthesia? why was a chimp drinking Coke? The Tamerlins broke Lucy, warped her for some sad reason - did they offer money for Lucy's support when it became inconvenient instead of cute and fun to have an adult chimp in their apartment?

Feb. 20 2010 02:25 PM

Goodness. I'm sitting here dazed by that story. I'm amazed at Sue's incredible care for Lucy, and simply downright angry at the insensitive and misguided behavior of Temerlin and Jane.

Feb. 20 2010 02:24 PM

The Tamerlins should be criminally prosecuted. Even the 70's and 80's any human being

Feb. 20 2010 02:20 PM

The Tamerlins should be criminally prosecuted. Even the 70's

Feb. 20 2010 02:19 PM

The Tamerlins should be criminally prosecuted. Even

Feb. 20 2010 02:19 PM

The Tamerlins should be criminally prosecuted.

Feb. 20 2010 02:18 PM

I just listened to the story of Lucy, who could keep from weeping? Could we abandon a human child? Well, that is what they did. How sad for Lucy, but really how horrible for the human race. We are selfish monsters in the name of science.
Thank you Radiolab, great program. Thank you Ira, you are superb!

Feb. 20 2010 02:16 PM

yep--the last picture, along with hearing the story just killed me. such a sad, sad story.

Feb. 20 2010 02:15 PM

This truly is an incredible story and masterful storytelling. I was sobbing by the end. Radiolab truly is one of the best programs available--of any medium. Thank you for a truly thoughtful and brilliant piece.

Feb. 20 2010 02:07 PM

Temerlin and Jane should be shot, or at least imprisoned. Disgraceful representatives of our selfish species.

Feb. 20 2010 01:53 PM
Robert R

This show was devastating. Just devastating. Thank you Radiolab.

Feb. 20 2010 02:55 AM
Ellen M.

It was the hug. I, too, burst into tears and long to have a copy of this photo; wonder where it is? and if it is possible to have a copy of it? I'm not sure if I can explain why but the tenderness - the love in it with the story of the need to return to one's natural source - and then - the tragic end of Lucy's life.

Feb. 20 2010 01:28 AM
Nathaly Alvarado

Oh my god! I was driving at the time I was listening to it on This American Life and suddenly I felt as if someone was looking at me. Sure enough the car next to me was staring as I was crying and I just wanted to roll down the window and tell them to listen to Lucy's story so they could understand.
How horrible what we humans do to these animals, first the emotional torture and then to finish it off the cruelty of poachers.

Feb. 20 2010 12:28 AM

What an amazing and intelligent animal; and so heartbreaking to have been murdered for greed. It makes me wonder; is it wise to teach a chimp the ways of being human and let it go back to the wild when they are much more vulnerable and trusting? How can they be taught to be wary of humans and protect themselves? I am grieved at Lucy's cruel death

Feb. 20 2010 12:21 AM
Paula P.

I only caught the tail end of the story being broadcast live on the radio, from where Lucy is flown to Tanzania, or wherever, and spends her first night in a cage... to the end. I then looked at the slideshow of pictures, here on the web, and when I got to the final picture, I burst out in tears. I am still crying, and feel so utterly devastated. Wow. I will have to brace myself before going back to listen to the full podcast.

Feb. 20 2010 12:16 AM

woah. woah! WOAH!

That Lucy story is heavy like a meteorite. I need to go sit in a dark room for while.

To the webmaster: This site is seriously in need of attention. It's slow. Actually, beyond slow. So slow I don't think it would be possible for it to be any slower without defying certain laws of time and space. Please do something

Feb. 19 2010 09:50 PM

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