Return Home

Lucy, the epilogue

Back to Episode

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

Comments [247]

Eatoin Shrdlu from Arizona

      Frankly, Dr. Carter, is the one who killed Lucy. Why couldn't Carter have left her where she had been, in a human household and world she grew up in, was used to, and clearly was happy in? (Even if it had to be a new household, because the Temerils "threw her out". Or at least a "preserve" in civilization where she would continue to have the human companionship and comforts she obviously craved and was used to.) All because of some pre-determined ideology which held she would be "better" in the wild?

      Maybe someone should take Dr Carter, strip her naked, and throw her alone into the middle of the Amazon Jungle, forbidding her to return to civilization, and see how well she'd do, and how much she "liked" it.

      The long struggle Carter had to force Lucy to conform to Carter's will, the heart-breaking exchange where Lucy kept saying "Janice come", and Carter cruelly replied "No, Lucy go" are testament to the "good" doctor's obtuseness. I hope she has no children of her own, and pray she never will, she'd make an awful mother!

Aug. 08 2017 12:23 AM
Aimont from dc

Such deep humanity came from this story, from the teller of it to the subjects. Lucy, saying "I hurt" outside of Janis' "cage", is the telling point of the whole story. The best intentions of so many people seemed to conspire to a tragic ending. So many people, with so many very best intentions, and no one seeing the inevitable end. This show provides all of that experience and so the potential wisdom that might come from everyone's experience. I so hope that all of the experience leads to a future informed by wisdom.

Aug. 07 2017 01:40 AM
Letty Griffin from Columbia, Maryland

I listened to this sad and cruel story of Lucy and her "human family" - people with the best intentions can often cause incredible suffering to animals and children in the name of science. I kept thinking that someone would eventually be able to provide the care that Lucy had been accustomed living as a child, but no, Lucy was abandoned on an island to fend for herself. If i did this to my cat or dog I would be accused of animal cruelty.

How Lucy was killed was so sad and sickening, I feel that under the circumstances no one is surprised by the cruelty and ignorance of everyone involved.

Radio Lab thank you for bringing this program, only by airing these stories is that we can be informed of what's happening around our world.

Aug. 06 2017 09:17 PM
Donna from Litchfield, CT

I also listened to this story yesterday while driving, and unexpectedly, I ended up sobbing, alone in my car. Then I went home, looked at the picture and cried again. For all of the same reasons that everyone has described. My tears are for Lucy's mother, for all animals wronged by humans, for Janice, and Lucy. Tearing up again now...

Aug. 06 2017 07:02 PM
Kathy from Wheaton IL

This was a truly heartbreaking story. I had never heard of Lucy before listening today. From the very beginning of the story, hearing about how the Temerlins took her away from her mother to her tragic end is infuriating. The Temerlins should have never been allowed to bring her into their home, no matter what reasoning. One more cruel example of human selfishness. Thank you Radio Lab for bringing these stories to us. Perhaps we can learn from tragedy?

Aug. 06 2017 06:53 PM
Nell Okie from US

This is one of the saddest, cruelest, most disgusting stories I have ever heard.

I am filled with sorrow thinking about Lucy and tremendous anger at the Temerlins for their acts of stupidity and cruelty.

They should have been prosecuted for their abuse of beautiful Lucy.

RADIOLAB seemed to revel in airing this. I hope I am wrong about that.

Aug. 06 2017 04:37 PM
Scooter Jones from Eugene, OR

I happened to catch this program today. Yesterday I listened to Radiolab's podcast about Kanzi, the Bonobo. That is another fascinating & riveting story.

Aug. 06 2017 03:01 PM
Brendan from Houston, TX

I was listening while driving. I had to pull over, and I completely fell apart. This story touched me in a profound way. I don't know what a soul is or the components of consciousness or the roots of out emotional being, but I am certain that we share those "spiritual" aspects with our animal brethren. Janis Carter is my hero.

Aug. 06 2017 12:39 AM

I, like so many others who have posted comments here, sat riveted to this story and horrified and saddened, particularly by its tragic end when Lucy was deposited (along with other chimps who had previously only known the human world) to the extreme risk of poachers in the African bush. I want to add my two cents to others who have made this point: it's time for journalists and producers who bring us powerful stories like this to address the ethics of human research on animals.

Lucy's case is an excellent example of human hubris disguised as "research" that is supposed to "further science" in some way or other. As I write this, horrific experiments on animals are being conducted in US government and US university labs on primates, dogs, mice, cats and other sentient beings that often fail to deliver meaningful results for treating human or other animals health. One of the worst examples is the decades-long Texas A&M University experiments on golden retrievers (who are bred to have debilitating Muscular Dystrophy, live in sub-par conditions and experimented on with various treatments). Dr. Kornegay's golden retriever experiments have been going on for decades, yet have failed to deliver meaningful contributions for treating humans who suffer from muscular dystrophy. Some of the coverage of this has been removed from various press websites, but you can see the criticism here in a local Texas Fox News piece:

There are humane ways to study animal behavior and intelligence that do not jeopardize their safety and wellbeing and there are better ways to produce results for human medicine than by experimenting on animals. I encourage everyone who is equally disturbed by the lack of ethics of this experiment to speak up to stop on all the inhumane research done on animals still being done today--from Texas A&M's golden retrievers to testing of cosmetics and other products on mice and rabbits, to the inhumane production of meat on a massive scale in US factory farms.

For more info about alternatives to the use of animals in medical education and research, as well as advocating for more effective scientific methods, I encourage everyone to support the impactful work of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which has been working tirelessly since 1985 to shift research from animal “models” to human-relevant studies, and to work with policymakers and industry to adopt alternatives to chemical tests on animals, among other initiatives:

For more on protecting animals in the wild to the animals in our food system, please consider supporting the great work of The Humane Society of the United States:

Aug. 05 2017 08:58 PM
Evan from SF, CA

This story was very sad. I don't usually listen to Radiolab, and boy, did I pick a sad one to hear. I was touched by Janis's incredible dedication to try to do right by Lucy. And I felt somewhat reassured that she seemed to have wanted to be with the other chimps at the end. It reminded me of a doc on PBS about a child that had essentially been brought up feral, and a linguist taking her into her home. They were making great progress, when the funding dried up. And then, yep, the linguist just abandoned this girl to her fate at some home. All her progress was lost eventually, and she was left to her sad life. I thought it was heartless. I couldn't find the photo of Janis and Lucy, and maybe that's just as well. Didn't need to feel more sad.

Aug. 05 2017 06:52 PM
Cynthia McLendon

Should a parent abandon a special needs child because he/she become too big to easily take care of? Of course not. But the people who raised Lucy as a human did. They were responsible for her, and they broke that trust. This story just made me cry.

Aug. 05 2017 05:00 PM
Gina from NH

I am so disappointed in Janice at the end. Lucy grew up human, that's all she knew. You forced Lucy to go into the wild, not knowing what that was or why. I feel Janice betrayed and abandoned Lucy. The most cruel act humans do to innocent animals. That last hug was Lucy's understanding and acceptance of her human sister's leaving. Lucy said goodbye and died the most painful death...alone...knowing she was abandoned.

Aug. 05 2017 12:54 PM
eledryth barton from 87110

what a horrible way to end her life, after all she did for us. humans are more barbaric than animals. leave these chimps alone.

Aug. 05 2017 12:44 PM

Totally barba rich and in humane. Shame

Aug. 04 2017 05:17 PM
glenys deschenes from vancouver b.c.

Thank you for bringing me this story. The last image of Janice with Lucy tells all. They loved each other as much as any two can. I have rarely felt such a sadness, while at the same time, a closeness to all life. Friends visited my parents in the 1960's when I was about 9 years old and they had a chimpanzee who was a member of their family. A visit we didn't forget. My ideas are forever changed after listening about Lucy. The utter dedication and love given by a few to learn so much, giving their time for so many years to her care. Lucy was precious. She has formed a strong memory for all and that is worth gold.

Sep. 12 2015 09:07 PM
rbh from oklahoma

I have twice listened to this story. It is horrifying to me. What I see in that photo is a depressed chimp,grief stricken by loss, abandonment and not just once. Resigned to her fate,performing once again.what a disgrace. Shame on all involved

Aug. 25 2015 10:39 PM
Bill from Toronto

I feel as if Janice Carter spent all those months and years on the island out of some sense of loyalty to Lucy and her well-being. Who paid for the so-called "rehabilitation"? Was Janice Carter paid by someone i.e.: the university or benefactors or the Temerlins?

Aug. 24 2015 10:48 PM
Sophia S. from Brooklyn

@ Diimaa from Dallas, TX -

How do you manage to displace the blame of the male authority figure, the psycho-therapist whose unethical behavior is ultimately to blame for Lucy's treatment, onto the woman who devoted the better part of her life trying to rectify the mess he had caused? I mean, she moved to the other side of the world and slept in a cage and got defecated on. "Especially that Janice Carter. She is one cruel witch." Really?! How about especially the psycho-therapist.

Aug. 24 2015 01:40 PM
Diimaa from Dallas, TX

No saving grace for humans involved in Lucy life. May all of them be Damned to the deepest if Hellfire.

I tried to be compassionate but they abandoned her when she needed then the most.
Especially that Janice Carter. She is one cruel witch

Aug. 23 2015 08:45 PM
Laura from Seattle

It wasn't until I was deep into the comments, tears still welling from my eyes, that I realized this awful 'experiment' occurred under the auspices of my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. Fortunately, the approval of institutional review boards is now required in every reasonable setting, and there is some protection for subjects--this would never be allowed nowadays. That doesn't mean that human beings have evolved to a higher state. We still begin the lives of others and then abandon them when they become difficult or embarrassing. We're a pretty selfish lot. Hopefully stories like this can keep us aware of our dangerous tendencies, and make us examine ourselves and our resourcse when we take on the awesome responsibility for another life.

Aug. 23 2015 07:27 PM
Kevin from Toronto

This story was a true tale of why animals are so reluctant to trust humans. And an interesting reflection of how we constantly betray each other as humans.
This betrayal of Lucy was not a last minute act. It was premeditated. The plan had always been to abandon Lucy. This is the ultimate betrayal indeed. Some have commented on what great efforts where made to have Lucy adapt to the wild. But they knew very early on that she would not be able to do that in a very meaningful way. If the same experiment where to take place except it was a human child given to apes and then returned to the human population later in life, that person would never be able to adapt. The only difference is that an Ape would never think of that kind of betrayal! Shame on us as Humans and Shame on these Humans in particular. So Sad!

Aug. 23 2015 06:52 PM
Joan from Colorado

Reading so many comments I realized I didn't hear the first and most important part to this story of Lucy /Luci. How she was taken from her mother. Poachers will be poachers, but the effort I've recently read about the ways they are trying to curb it is powerful and should be funded more than these horrific, heart wrenching stories taking wild animals and they quite literally made "human". The people who "adopted" her might as well have been the poachers themselves with all they set into motion in that one act of taking her from her mother. This is ANIMAL CRUELTY and they should face charges or more laws created so others do not get so delusional and actually save animals. Someone mentioned how cruel it would have been to put her down....I totally disagree. That would have had more compassionate than what Lucy/Luci and Jan went through needlessly at the end.

Aug. 23 2015 06:43 PM
Lisa from Tucson AZ

Such a betrayal of trust, love and belonging. This is why wild animals should be left wild. And if you decide to bring them into your family, you should be responsible for them till they've lived out their life. Too many stories like this. And when we can see what they communicate, their confusion and pain in being sent away, it should be all we need to know to never allow selfish acts of bringing wild animals into the family unless you are willing and ready to deal with their needs too, forever.. Not just the way they fit into your life, but actually make the space and allowance for them to be themselves, destruction and all.
The stories always show the human deciding to go off to do something else, and the animals are discarded.
I do give credit to Janis for the efforts she made to bring Lucy back to the wild, but the oversight of not teaching her about predators, which include humans, was such a gross oversight. I believe Janis did the best she knew. But the end results were predictable.
Wild Baby animals are so cute, but they grow up to be strong, and have wild animal instincts. Always.

Aug. 23 2015 05:14 PM
Shirley from NC

What struck me as so tragic in this story was the amount of time and sacrifice made by Janet to acclimate Lucy to other chimpanzees and the wild. Her efforts were so herculean that they had to have arisen out of great love. The story would have had a happy ending for me despite the tragedies Lucy had already endured if she had not been ultimately betrayed by humans and murdered. That's just too sad to absorb and leaves me feeling broken hearted.

Aug. 23 2015 03:25 PM

One of the most tragic, yet moving stories I've ever heard on radio or TV. I don't often cry, but this moved me to cry deeply. I will not easily get back from thinking about Lucy and the heartlessness of some humans, and I will never forget. I only home that this moves me to be even more determined to make a positive impact in everything I do. Thank you for all your stories... even though some may be so devastating like Lucy's.

Aug. 23 2015 03:03 PM
Rod from Norwalk, CT

Perhaps this already has been asked, but has Jane Goodall commented on this story yet?

I expect she would have quit a lot to say about it...

Aug. 23 2015 02:49 PM

I am sitting here in tears. I listened closely, intrigued all the way through to the end. This type of story makes me hate humanity (not all humans) but innocent animals seem to suffer horrific abuse at the hands of humans. My heart just breaks and I wish there was some way to stop it.

Aug. 23 2015 02:49 PM
Betty Calagoure from Prince Edward Island

What a tragic story. How could they think they could leave Lucy in the wild and she would somehow know how to look after herself? How irresponsible of people who claim to be animal lovers!

I came to this site to look for the picture of Lucy and Janis but couldn't find it. Has it been removed?

Aug. 23 2015 01:53 PM
Joan H from Ft Lauderdale, Fl

Poor Lucy,

I was also mesmerized about the story. Could not leave the parking lot as others have said! We go to great lengths to protect our Cairn terrier, who will go in anyone's car or go with anyone, yearning to be loved. She is our second Cairn so we have learned.

Lucy exhibited the same traits as any domesticated animal would. Lots of good intentioned people did their best to make Lucy adapt but the difference in a dog and a chimp are immense. Would her outcome be any different if she lived in the wild?

We are currently faced with a feral cat colony so my daughter pointed out the obvious if I report them. The right thing to do has to play here so nearby families are not bit etc.

Telling this story took so much courage, I am proud of all involved.

Aug. 22 2015 11:49 PM
Rich Zollino from Ridgefield, Ct

Thank you for sharing Lucy's story, I was inconsolably moved to tears.

In life we make choices. Reality is we don't know where our path will lead and despite what we may think, we're not in control of events. We truly aren't. In this tale, everyone acted with good intentions. Each person offered unconditional love to another sentient being, perhaps unaware of the consequences. Or perhaps believing they had some control over outcomes. In the final analysis, this path was terra incognita and no one could have known where it would lead. No one is at fault and no one is to blame.

The truly moving part of the story is Lucy's keen desire to cling to the life she knew: the way of humans, as she was taught. She clung to the only set of values she knew: a simple trust in the kindness of man.

Sooner or later, each of us learns about human treachery. Often it's a painful lesson and we pay a price for our misplaced trust. I find the savagery of the price Lucy paid beyond understanding, beyond the price any sentient creature should be asked to pay.

Along with Diane Fossi's favorite gorilla, Digit, Raju the elephant, and most recently, the prized tourist attraction, Cecil the lion, Lucy will forever be quartered in my heart and mind.

Aug. 22 2015 09:50 PM
edward from rural Virginia

The human moral, and professional ethical, issues in this story abound. The commenters here have identified many. Strangely, it seems the researchers, writers, editors, and readers of the story failed to highlight these issues, but then, perhaps that wasn't their intent, or their interest. But, now, with the story publishes, perhaps the Radiolab team would publish an addendum. That addendum would address, directly, at least several moral and ethical issues we identity here, but there, of course many more - from the commenters - that an addendum could address:
1. Radiolab made a big deal - as if most of the listeners were ignorant - or discussing the term 'investigator'. Researcher has 'investigator' roles - Principal Investigator (PI), Co-investigator, etc - and these roles require attention to a wide variety of ethical duties of researchers. Attention to these ethical duties are matters of regulation and accountability and matters of formal record with the sponsoring research institutions and the funders of the award paying for the research. The addendum by Radiolab SHOULD publish a pdf of the formal ethical regulations and accountabilities of this research; or publish that there are none; so that readers can understand how the research was funded with such poor ethical review, regulation, and accountability.
2. BOTH Radiolab readers - when opining about the boundaries of human and animal cultures - STATED that 'there are too many humans'. Please cite the scientific source of that statement that both readers stated. Please also cite what the scientific sources say should be done about the stated problem: that there are too many humans. OH, you can't? Well then publish in the addendum that THAT was only an opinion of Radiolab! OH, it wasn't the formal published opinion of Radiolab?! Then publish that THAT was only an opinion of the readers. Either way: opinion of Radiolab, or opinion of the readers, clarify what you mean that should be done? The statement was stated in the context of the story out of Africa, SO, apparently Radiolab's STATEMENT about human population appears to be advocating human population reduction, PARTICULARLY IN AFRICA! Is that TRUE?! Africa is the continent experiencing the steepest population growth rate currently and by mid century is projected (according to many sources) to be the single continent with continuing exploding population growth (while all other continents reduce population growth rates)! So, Radiolab's STATEMENT appears to relate to these data. BUT, RADIOLAB MUST EXPLAIN CLEARLY what it means!

Aug. 22 2015 07:28 PM
DC Murphy from Southern CA

This is a horrifying and outrageous story from start to finish. Returning Lucy to wild where she would be at greatest risk from poachers was the ultimate - if unintended - evil. Though there is much goodness in the world, we humans are still the ultimate savages.

Aug. 22 2015 07:22 PM
Susan from Santa Cruz CA

Tragic story that was doomed from the start. Read Karen Joy Fowler's 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves', a very well-researched book by a thoughtful writer on this very subject.

Aug. 22 2015 06:52 PM
Miranda from Bay Area

I wanted to know more about Janis Carter and found this link: on youtube. it is in French and it is about her work and life in Gambia and Guinea. it appears to be one of a series of short program about women working in different areas of the world: "Aventures de femmes"

Aug. 22 2015 05:48 PM
Marta Mohr from St. Paul, MN

Like so many others, I sat in the parking lot to listen to the story. Animals are individuals with their own personality. Lucy grew up learning to rely on humans as her family group. She must have been so confused, terrified and broken hearted. Thank you Janis for developing a relationship with her and truly being her friend. Obviously she loved you very much. You're probably correct that someone came to the island and she assumed she was safe to interact with them. Reminds me of the welcome the indigenous people of the Caribbean gave Columbus and he proceeded to make them slaves and cut off arms if they did not bring him enough gold. Heart breaking.

Aug. 22 2015 05:25 PM
Lonecia from WA

They took a child and discarded her amongst aliens.

Aug. 22 2015 04:53 PM
Patty from Minnesota

Moral of the story. Humans! Leave the animal kingdom alone!

Aug. 22 2015 04:05 PM
Tim from New Jersey

Brought me to tears...I cry for Lucy's outcome and for all the misery we as a species have wrought on this world. I find myself less and less empathetic to Man's plight and am, so, I guess, becoming a sociopath. I may have always been. I ache for the hurt we have caused the species of the world and the destruction we have caused and continue to do so. God help us!

Aug. 22 2015 12:58 PM
Joy from Indiana

Dang it, this made me cry. I don't mean I shed a little, I mean I was in my car and now 5 min later doing the full on ugly cry.

Aug. 21 2015 09:47 PM
Varinder Singh from Brampton, Ontario

So emotional and heart touching described so well it felt like I was there all along

Aug. 21 2015 01:54 PM
lauren from Depoe Bay, Oregon

At first, I was mesmerized by the story of Lucy as I drove my 70 miles home from work. And, as many have said, I couldn't seem to stop listening to Janis and, too, I commend her for her attempt to provide the dedication that Lucy's adopted "parents" so recklessly chose not to. In the end, I find that the sort of heartlessness the Temerlins displayed in their "experiment" reminds me, sadly, of how cruel a species we can be and it shames me. I find myself unable to read any further about their lives as it hurts me too deeply. I can only hope they paid the emotional price they earned. And, indeed, as has been said already, God help us all.

Aug. 21 2015 10:35 AM
Nicholas from Philippines

This just made my cry. Well done radiolab.

Jan. 26 2015 08:09 PM
Matt Oliver from Austin, TX

Had my attention all the way home, then sat in the truck listening to what happened to Lucy. Somehow it takes my hope away for the Human Race. Will we ever learn, or will what we learn just keep fading with our newborn? God help us!!!

Aug. 13 2014 11:03 PM
KCotton from Poughkeepsie, NY

I just finished listening to this story while sitting in my car in my driveway. I wanted so much to turn it off before the end, but couldn't. I could feel a tragic ending coming but for Lucy's sake, I kept listening. These are the stories that really bring out the anger in me. I find I have to step back from immediate contact with my fellow species for a little while or so because I begin to observe humans with such distain. We can be such a wonderful, loving, constructive bunch. And we can be such a hateful, destructive, and evil bunch. I realize that the Temerlin's thought they were participating in cutting-edge science, but did they never see the sheer arrogant and egotistical side of their little experiment? How very classic to begin something they couldn't finish once it became inconvenient and tough. It should never have happened in the first place. Yet, to this day, people still own baby chimps because they are "so cute." Incredible.

Aug. 11 2014 02:05 PM
Rob Collins from Lexington,Ky

The picture of Lucy embracing Janis is indeed haunting and excruciatingly sad. No sentient being should be caught between two worlds like that. What a painful and tragic tale. She just wanted to be loved.

Aug. 10 2014 03:18 PM


Aug. 10 2014 02:18 PM
SHMcC from Washington, DC

How terribly sad. Why was she ever taken out of her environment? How misdirected. Janis tried her best so have to give her credit. Sad, sad, sad.

Aug. 10 2014 01:00 PM
Sara from Washington, DC

This story and its pictures completely broke my heart. I have the greatest respect for Janis, dedicating years of her life to try and save Lucy, to reverse the effects of this stupid "scientific experiment" by the couple.

What did this couple get out of this experiment? Good dinner party conversation? How greedy and reckless... They deserve the same outcome.

Aug. 10 2014 12:49 PM

At the end of the story, I wished I had not heard this story, but really, I wish it had never happened. I think what bothered me most was that the presentation by Radiolab did not acknowledge the terrible tragedy of the whole misguided, terrible, hubristic effort.

Aug. 10 2014 08:47 AM
Risse from Portland, OR

This story broke my heart.
We, as humans are at fault from beginning to end, in Lucy's maltreatment and eventual tortuous demise.
I honestly feel like its our duty and honor to care for the animals of this earth.
Thank you for reminding me that we must stand for the beings who have no voice.

Aug. 10 2014 02:26 AM
regina winkler from portland,or

My dogs benefited from this story as I kept driving them around to hear the end. A end I wish I had not heard. The last picture of Janis with Lucy is heart wrenching and I don't agree with Janis that Lucy was trying to tell her it was ok - it looked like she was trying to hold onto her and really missed her and her life that she had lost. There was a lot of depth in that grainy picture. Reminds me of Keiko the whale whom they released in the wild after spending 22 years entertaining humans. He found his pod but didn't spend time with them. He spent his end days entertaining the Norwegians on the coast. These animals have been domesticated and we have forsaken them.

Aug. 10 2014 01:31 AM
Gerrie Gribble from Seattle, WA

I think in our quest to understand other species in this world, and how we relate to them we miss the point. Homo sapiens are who they are. Trying to understand more about the apes will not necessarily help us understand ourselves. Our own evolution as a species is ours. The evolution of cats or dogs or tigers is different. Give them their own habitat and leave them be. We can still appreciate who and what they are through observation, but it should not go further than that. Humans want to know more about ourselves because we need to have purpose. That is not necessarily true of other species. Other species can show love, compassion, and intelligence. Sometimes, we don't need to know more than that.

Let's learn.

Aug. 09 2014 07:38 PM

I too had to sit in my car to hear the conclusion of this story. After reading these posts I feel lucky I missed most of the beginning and I'm not sure I will try to. What a tragic story from beginning to end. Taken from her mother, used as a live in experiment then abandoned. I agree with many of the others posting. If a person willfully and knowingly alters the life and environment of an animal they should take responsibility for that animal to the end of it's life. These were educated well connected people I think a better solution could have been created.

I don't agree that humans are all a bunch of arrogant, evil beings as some have suggested, thats a big stretch. Some of our species act with selfishness, cruelty and irresponsibly but we are not all like that so maybe tone down the "condemn all the humans" rhetoric a notch or two. The sound of it drowns out more useful dialogue that might produce something of value.

Aug. 09 2014 05:38 PM
Lin Conrad from SF, California

Had to park my car for the end of this story because I knew I would break down and cry. Best radio lab ever...

Aug. 09 2014 04:58 PM
Mesfin from Mesfin

What a sad and touching story. Science gave us great insight into the world we live in however I believe Lucy's tell reminds us to stop and ask if we are using our inquisitive mind for good. What is our responsibility and how far should we push to 'advance' science? Hope scientists and those who believe in the human superiority learn a lesson from Lucy and appreciate the natural ecosystem of all living things. We do not own the planet rather share it.

Thank you RadioLab for such a moving story.

Aug. 09 2014 04:50 PM
Cira from PA

Cats and dogs sense loss and tension. What could possibly suggest to the Tamerlins that Lucy would not? It was cruel to leave her in the jungle alone after having spent her entire life with humans living as a human. She was a living being, not a toy to be manipulated and treated as a doll. The images of this sweet animal dressed in children's clothing are simply heartbreaking. They used her and then discarded her. What a horrible story of human arrogance and selfishness

Aug. 09 2014 01:55 PM
Queita Willison from TItusville, FL

This will haunt me for years. I cannot believe how horrible some humans can be. I know it is important for us to be educated about this sort of thing, otherwise, there would be push to stop it. But I really wish I did not know Lucy's story.

Aug. 09 2014 01:51 PM
Grace from Fort Lauderdale, Fl

So many emotions...beautiful, sad, haunting story.

Aug. 09 2014 01:36 PM
Deborah from Valdosta, GA

I can't stop crying over this story. It's just so tragic. Men do awful things to each other; but it's worse when we do awful things to animals. Janis tried really hard in an impossible situation. I wonder why they couldn't find a better place for Lucy. I wonder if the couple exhausted all possible refuges in America.

Aug. 08 2014 11:01 PM
Jarred from Bloomingberg, ny

Great story but horrible ending

May. 01 2014 09:19 PM
cheryl dymond from Albuquerque

The sheer thoughtlessness of the Temerlins! and we're supposed to be the species with foresight! what did they think would happen when she matured? is it a case of 'never underestimate the power of denial'? i agree with the person who commented that this couple was twisted. it breaks my heart that the chimp had to pay such a terrible price for their arrogance.
i mean, even our beloved dogs and cats aren't safe from that percentage of the human race who are compelled to victimize , hell even humans aren't safe! i guess that shrink never read the little prince or saw the line 'one is always responsible for that which one has tamed' !
i believe we have a responsibility to protect the world from humans, not by turning it into a series of parks, but by restricting access to places that are left to be wild. it's not wilderness that needs to be managed, but the human race!
like Edward Abbey said"don't move to the desert! it's dangerous and hot!"we are a plague to the rest of the world and need to stop filling it up!!

Mar. 28 2014 05:34 AM
K McCormack from UK

Since listening to Lucy's story on radio lab, it has really stayed with me and haunted me. How selfish of these so called scientists to take her away from her species and to ultimately seal such a cruel and lonely fate for her. She should never have been abandoned when she had clearly been so humanised. I feel anger for all of those involved in Lucy's life. I have been looking through all the pictures of her throughout her life from the cute little baby being the centre of attention in pretty dresses to the desolate, abandoned face of the mature chimp. Shame on those involved.

The comments about how the Temerlins began to find Lucy too difficult to handle and how 'their friends stopped coming to visit' particularly angered me. Painfully, cruelly irresponsible. How dare they use the term 'daughter' in relation to what cruelty they brought to Lucy's life and how they threw her away when she impacted on their social life!

This story will stay with me forever.

Mar. 25 2014 05:04 PM

Dear Abumrad -san and Krulwich -san;

Greetings from Tokyo!
I have started listening your PodCast after My friend recommended me about 1 year ago. Because my only experience of PodCast was BBC, your PodCast is really a "magic of sound" to me, real fun to listen to.
After that, I kept listening your PodCast from oldest to new. It is really good for my English lesson, but sometimes big words make me confused.
And I have bumped on this episode, "Lucy." It was my first experience to drop tears from my eyes by listening radio or PodCast for my 45 years of life. I am always with my iPhone on my hand as a dictionary while listening and look up unfamiliar words, but this one, even many of your words could not be understandable, I did not look up any and just dipped my ears into the episode.
I still feel teary to think how much Lucy was sad when she got separated from Janis. She died alone (even if she had been attacked by humans). Sole death is the most saddest event of all the living animals. I hope Lucy is doing O.K. in heaven...
I keep listening until I catch up the newest. It takes long, but I love you guys' unbiased opinion for each episode. (My friend said the same.)
Please keep up good work. Take care.
Ryo Uchinomiya

Mar. 13 2014 11:02 AM

I can't help but wonder what were the Temerlins trying to achieve taking Lucy from her mother? I don't believe in this "daughter" self delusion. You don't abandon a disabled daughter if she become too strong to be handled safely. We only do that to animals no matter how attached we become to them.

Let's just suppose that she could have been successfully raised as a human. Then what? What do you think would be the impact of the introduction of an intelligent race 5 times stronger than humans, physically and visibly different, in our society? If human history is any indication this could have only end up in war, slavery or ruthless exploitation (can you say cheap labor?). This look like another case of humanity merrily playing gods without regards for consequences. I bet somebody somewhere is still having a go at it in the quiet of some laboratory.

Like somebody else in the comments I found the photo of the hug painful to look at knowing the whole story. I don't see forgiveness here but rather terrible longing. It is doubtful that she ever adapted to wild life.

There is no lack of villains in this story but I find it is too easy to blame. The Temerlins only did what scientists do poking into things albeit farther than most. The poacher is just the last link in a long chain in a system were you're only worth the money you earn no matter how. He probably never realized or cared that Lucy was a bit smarter than his usual monkey victim. We are all a link in that chain, happily blind of our contribution as "facilitators".

Thank you RL for this deeply touching story.

Mar. 16 2013 12:35 PM
Patrick from Jacksonville, Fla.

Great Love Story, evil ending. Just awful what Humans do to other speices, and ea. really ruins it for us good Humans.......VERY SAD !

Mar. 12 2013 01:59 PM
Patrick from Jacksonville, Fla.

Great Love Story, evil ending. Just awful what Humans do to other speices, and ea. really ruins it for us good Humans.......VERY SAD !

Mar. 12 2013 01:59 PM

Best story I have ever heard on Public Radio.

Mar. 11 2013 11:38 AM
stan greene from Chicago

The ending was shocking. I should have seen it coming a mile away but I didn't. We are the real animals.

Mar. 10 2013 11:38 PM
Claudia from Dallas, TX

Simply heartbreaking. It was difficult to listen to this episode of Radiolab as Lucy's tragic fate was revealed. Despite the very unfortunate turn of events, I would LIKE to believe that Lucy lived a happy existence, even as she struggled to assimilate to life in the wild in the company of her fellow chimpanzees. One can't say for certain if that is the case...but without her story, we wouldn't be able to discourage someone else from repeating the same mistakes.

Mar. 10 2013 10:30 PM
Jo from NYC

I cannot stop crying..........

Mar. 10 2013 12:53 PM

One of the saddest stories I've ever heard. It left me in tears. We have an ethical responsibility to let animals be animals. As humans, we are the only species that have the ability to protect or destroy the entire ecosystem. Let's take steps to turn things around and start protecting it. I apologize to Lucy, and the countless others, for our endless blunders.

Mar. 10 2013 11:51 AM
Kathryn Crema from Prescott, AZ

I haven't had a 'driveway moment' in awhile, and this was certainly one of the most compelling. NPR touches our humanity, with only sound, as powerful as it is, and stops the current flow to touch the inside of our humanity with insights into the meanings of being alive, including these stories of relationship with other relatives in our primate family. These driveway insights are so seeringly deep, that my life is sweetened for the seasoning that's happened in my soul. Namaste'

Mar. 09 2013 10:26 PM
Matt Senior from Oberlin, Ohio

Such heartrending sadness. Animals love us unworthy humans forever. Lucy, more faithful than most human friends or lovers wastes away in the forest, unconsolable, signing desparately for Janis to come join her ... to at least stay on the island. When Lucy finally walks away, without looking back, we glimpse, for just a second, the eons of time and evolution that separate us from these beautiful animals. There is a heartwrenching melancholy feeling of lost paradises, of Robinson Crusoe, of the paintings of Douanier Rousseau. We can share our lives with dogs, cats, and horses, but the closer relative of man -- the chimpanzee -- grows too strong and dangerous. Tragically, she must leave. Only time for one last hug ... an everlasting embrace as strong as any human love. The only solace I take from this story: How deeply we love animals, some of us, some of the time. How deeply they love us, in rare instances, in their unfathomable way. There is promise in this for the future of humans and other animals.

Mar. 09 2013 09:15 PM
Nancy Miller from Eagle, ID

It breaks my heart when I hear of the evil deeds of some people and what they do to defenseless animals. Poor innocent Lucy was used by humans in so many ways. If people decide to remove an animal from its mother and its natural environment, and raise it in a human environment, they should continue to care for that animal for the duration of its life. I admire the work done with these chimps, but it is unfair to leave them out to be slaughtered after they are taught to assume humans are kind.

Mar. 09 2013 07:09 PM
Lonnie Jackson

Very deeply moved by this story. I could not have left Lucy on that island.
The picture is very hard to look at, after hearing the story.
A very sad life lesson. An even more tragic experiment. Lucy will be remembered always.

Mar. 09 2013 06:10 PM
Jenny from Sonoma, CA

Like everyone else - I was riveted to this story. As a girl my heroine was Jane Goodall. Still to this day those who work with chimpanzees and gorillas are the humans who inspire much hope in me - even in the face of so much destruction through war and habitat loss. I once thought this would be the kind of work I would gravitate to but after listening to your story it, once again, comes to me: I lack the patience, courage, stamina, humility and unwavering dedication required. Thank you for Janis and Lucy's story. Though I lack the true stuff of heroines through your story I can still follow the fight.

Mar. 09 2013 04:55 PM
Denise Braun-Frodsham from Fresno, CA

This is a deeply moving story that left me devastated at the end. Lucy had a great intelligence and deep emotions. She deserved to have a happy and secure life. Unfortunately, she had loneliness, insecurity, and a tragic end.

Mar. 09 2013 04:46 PM
tom woodin from new orleans

when I first heard this story on your show I was devistated. It is one of the saddest tales I have ever heard. When I realized you were airing it again I was sorely tempted to turn off the radio. But again I was compelled to listen, with the same predictable results. I will forever be haunted by Lucy's story. Powerful stuff!

Mar. 09 2013 04:33 PM
Arthur Golden from South Florida

I guess, like everyone else, I ask why people do the things they do. It WAS wrong to take Lucy from her Mother, but the villain in this story is the unknown killer of Lucy. What's the solution? Money!! To hire enough guards, to protect more and more endangered species who's only shortcoming is that they ARE endangered, and therefore rare and valuable. I know it's not mine to give, but with 1400 Billionaires in this world now, why can't they do something to help the world, with just a fraction of their mostly unearned wealth, and not just turn down $50,000,000 for their rare car, but offer to pay for protection of the things that really give so many so much happiness and make so many feel good about being human. Save those who can't save themselves...

Mar. 09 2013 12:53 PM

I feel compelled to comment as I just heard this story while in my car. First, wonderful story telling. This was so artfully put together I sat there rivetted.
2nd, It's an amazing illustration of the spectrum in which humans are capable. The dr that took Lucy in with good intentions, to learn and educate. Probably felt like he satisfied a certain curiosity as well as contributed to the long-term good of humanity. The extremely good heartedness of Janis, who opened her heart and sacrificed her life for this Chimp so that it could live. And finally the poacher, a very low level of consciousness that scours the earth under the illusion that as you take from it, you add to your own grandeur. I find Janis' character inspiring and hope to emulate it in some way.

Mar. 09 2013 01:41 AM
Bill Dough from Livermore, CA

We have seen wars with worse collateral damages: Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, WW2...Sandy Hook shooting, hate crimes by KKK, i'm not surprised.

Mar. 08 2013 11:04 PM
sally Fox

In 1980 I met a woman who lived on this island with the chimps while working in The Gambia as Peace Corps Volunteer. I really did not understand why this island had so many chimps, but have been fascinated by it for all these years. Now I know how it started and I suppose the reason this woman lived there was to protect them from poachers. It makes sense now.

But what a terrible story- from the very beginning - stealing a baby chimp from it's mother.....

Mar. 08 2013 10:45 PM
Spena from New York City

Taking a human baby from it's mother at 2 days old, raising it in an artificial culture and then dumping back into society it when it reached maturity would be, by any measure, unethical. How can we not think the same for animals? Janis is the only moral hero in this story.

Mar. 08 2013 03:45 PM
Bruce Glasscock from Nevada

Just heard this story on NPR. Heartbreaking ending for Lucy. Couldn't stop crying. Thank you Janis.

Mar. 08 2013 12:42 PM

Like others, I was heartbroken, repulsed, spellbound, and touched by this story. Rarely have I felt so much emotion in such a short period of time, and I could not, for the life of me, continue my Christmas shopping after hearing this story of extreme suffering and loss. The extent to which this family exemplified supreme intellect and yet were supremely oblivious emotionally was torturous and compelling. All of us listening suffered through Lucy's incompatibility with both human and animal environments--an incompatibility engineered completely and thoughtlessly by this family.

This is perhaps most painful because we all have experienced, on some level, the feelings of loss, abandonment, and bewilderment that Lucy suffered. To live through these feelings in another being is difficult, thought-provoking, and off-putting. We can all add our own feelings of loss and loneliness, in whatever forms we know them, to fill in the emotional blanks between the words of this story. That we relive our own fears and loneliness, seen to its worst possible end, is unbearable and mesmerizing.

Dec. 17 2012 12:08 AM
Bi Hai from China

The end of this story is so sad that I just want to through my Iphone out of window. I really don't think it's right to raise any kind of animal as human for any reason, even for experiment purpose. Why people just cannot leave the other species alone? It's such a cruel thing to open a window of a new world to them then close it like slaming in their faces, and the saddest thing is that it's the "new world" that gets them killed in the very end. Just let go and leave them alone.

Nov. 20 2012 09:47 PM
Jennifer Howard from Athens GA

This story I found heartbreaking on so many levels. As a veterinarian, I am often affected by the relationships between people and their animals, but this story really pierced me. I think people understand on some level how much we mean to the creatures that we bring into our lives, but rarely have I heard such a poignant account of love. Poor, poor Lucy. On the other hand, Janis Carter displayed such depth of character and loyalty to her charge, I also find the degree of her loss almost unbearable. This was a mindblowing story... thank you Radio Lab.

Jul. 11 2012 07:51 PM

I think it is funny how judgmental people can be. I didn't see it as the Temerlins "throwing away Lucy" at all, they truly tried to find a good outcome for her, after they couldn't handle how powerful she had become. Lucy, even though raised as a human, was still an animal with the strength of 5 men, she wasn't going to be able to stay with her human family forever, at least not without being caged. Janis was a good friend to Lucy, too, staying with her and doing her best to help her assimilate to her new surroundings. I believe she honestly cared about Lucy as a friend and I'm sure she was crushed when she found she had been killed. It was obviously a huge blow to her and one that caused her to alter her life and stay in Gambia and work with local populations to protect Chimps and their habitats there. Thanks, Radiolab, for bringing us a truly riveting and inspiring story.

Jul. 10 2012 05:59 PM
Wanda from Lancaster, CA

I think it is so heartbreaking that Janis and all involved with this project couldn't realize that Lucy wanted to live/finish her life with humans, as she was raised. I felt such anger and grief that she was left like that out in the wild, where it was obvious by Lucy's health and communication to Janis that she was never going to understand or except why she was suddenly supposed to live like a wild chimp, when she was conditioned and raised as a human. Horrible!

Jul. 09 2012 12:53 PM
Sharon from Golden, Colorado

A truly heartbreaking lesson about the fact that other animals have real emotions and lives. Humans are animals, too, if only everyone could remember that. I hope that all the people who determine policies, as well as those who administer policies, listen to this and learn the lesson. We can't just keep using up other animals as if they are objects.
This reminds me of a recent interview with Temple Grandin, who was very frustrated that people still refuse to accept the fact that animals have emotions, a fact that has been scientifically demonstrated. We must accept that fact, and adjust our policies and actions accordingly.
I thank Janis for staying with Lucy and sacrificing of herself to aid her.

Jul. 08 2012 08:16 PM
Stella from Manhattan

Beyond heartbreaking. Years ago, the NYTimes published an article about chimps at an American university center who were taught to communicate via computer. Late into the night, long after their daily "work" was done and most of the chimps were asleep, a solitary chimp (Lana?) remained at her computer, typing, "Lana lonely. Talk to me."

Jul. 08 2012 04:58 PM
Kat from Los Angeles

DITTO!!! This story MUST be a reminder to us that we have to be more responsible. Yes, let's take studies to a place where we are able to really explore, however, pro's & con's, even a devil's advocate, need to evaluate ALL possible outcomes to reduce casualties...i continue to be a little sad but i am touched to a point where i am re-energized to volunteer my time to an organizaton/foundation!

Jul. 08 2012 04:01 PM

I listened spell-bound to this story - and am grateful to Janis for her support of Lucy. I'm appalled at the family that raised Lucy - what they did should be against the law. I ended up weeping and very moved by the story and I'm glad to have heard it - and hope that it may be used to prevent others from such a thoughless experiment.

Jul. 08 2012 02:09 PM
Sad from San Diego

Like most others I was stuck in my car sobbing.
If there is any consolation, we learnt a lesson in how not to raise a chimp like human. And humans are not so special.

Jul. 08 2012 02:44 AM

It is commendable 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 in which to find herself and she did her best to find a happy solution for Lucy.

Still, although Lucy eventually walked away without looking back, she was told to go repeatedly so it's likely she'd resigned herself to it.

Despite Carter's efforts, Lucy was not a member of the ape tribe she was expected to join. Lucy never had children, which is an indication she did not find a mate. Lucy was not robust and healthy, so she was not thriving.

Where is the evidence the other apes accepted her? Assuming other apes would just accept and integrate Lucy because they were of the same species is another example of human arrogance, ignoring the complexities of ape life with its communities and relationships.

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. (Although Carter considered it "transition," how could Lucy understand that?) It's doubtful that was a coincidence, but rather, more likely Lucy spent a lot of time there. If so, she wasn't with the other apes getting on with life. If Lucy was an outsider to the other apes and lonely, perhaps even bullied and rejected because Chimps do that to other chimps they target, she would have spent her time where she'd been with the last creature who showed her love, affection, and belonging. She may even have spent time there hoping Carter would return again.

When I look at the photo of Carter's and Lucy's hug during their last meeting, I do not see Lucy reassuring Carter that it was "okay now" because she understood and had found her niche among her own kind. Carter describes the hug as encompassing and intensely tight. Between Carter's description of the hug, the condition Lucy was in, and the way she is positioned against Carter, I see a photo of abject grief being shared with the last human in her life who lived with her and then came back to see her. Perhaps there is intense relief, too, that Carter had returned. How could Lucy know Carter would leave without her again?

As sad as it is, I suspect Janice Carter interpreted the hug as one of forgiveness and reassurance about everything being okay for Lucy because she has to believe it to live with the pain of leaving Lucy behind.

May we all learn our lessons from the sacrifices of members other species, like Lucy, and try to change established inhumane practices. And may we also self-reflect on how we currently accept the same sort of treatment of members of our own species, especially the young and the elderly. In the case of the young, abandoning them to the streets until we carelessly incarcerate them for what they do after we've already thrown them away.

Jul. 07 2012 10:08 PM
Monica from San Diego, CA

I am with the other folks who couldn't leave their car this afternoon because I was sobbing so much. It has been 2.5 hours since I listened to the story and still cannot hold back the tears. I have many thoughts and emotions right now, the strongest of which are the sadness for Lucy and my utter outrage at the her human parents. I cannot excuse their decisions or behavior for being so neglegent with another soul. I hope anyone who heard the story will share it with someone and remember even the simplest action of rescuing an animal from the pound means that animal trusts you completely and loves you unconditionally. They do not know anything more than this is the 'pack leader' and instinct guides them to put their trust in you. Do not experiment with them, do not accept the responsibility of another soul unless you are committed to them for their lifetime.

Jul. 07 2012 09:55 PM
Pat from Florida

Regarding the tragic and haunting story of Lucy: Like so many who have written, I sat in my car prior to entering a movie theatre, to hear the end of this story. Perhaps the biggest difference between chimpanzees and us so-called "evolved" humans is our unbelievable cruelty. Taking Lucy from its mother, raising a wild animal as a human, "disposing" of it when it became too much to handle, and ultimately making it vulnerable and unable to cope in its natural environment. Gin & tonics? This story haunted me throughout the movie, after the movie and will continue to do so. Seeing the photo of Lucy and Janis was the last straw. I only hope we can learn something from this tale. Thank you for sharing it. (I have never commented on a website)

Jul. 07 2012 07:50 PM
valerie k from LA

I stayed in my car to listen to the end of Lucy's story. Heartbreaking. I didn't catch the very beginning but my heart goes out to her. G-d bless Janis for helping her re-acclimate. I hope that her death was sudden and not by a poacher but, as Janis hopes, by a startled person.

May you be resting in peace, Lucy. What a difficult life you had.

Jul. 07 2012 07:29 PM
nancy from Boulder, CO

What a well told story of great sadness.I guess in a way we all hold experments in our lives without knowing how it will end. My heart is broken to hear of them stealing Lucy from her mother for their own selfish gain. It doesn't matter that it is in the name of science. Think how many have been hurt or killed by the questions of scientist and
"needing" to find out.
Every since I listened earlier today I keep wanting to cry. The sadness of this story lingers.

Jul. 07 2012 06:19 PM
Geri from San Francisco, CA

Just like Mary from St. Paul who commented before me, I, too, sat in my car in the garage to listen to the end of the story. And I also had the same question: What happened when the mother woke up? What a horrible thing to do to her. Seems like a terribly selfish thing to do. Perhaps it's in the book (one would hope).

And my heart ached when I heard about Lucy standing outside Janice's cage all day long. What were these people thinking? I know it was in the name of "science" but aren't there ethics that apply to beings who are so close to being human that they can spell "h-u-r-t" when their heart is broken?

I keep thinking about poor Lucy, not knowing anything other than human contact, being abandoned in the wild. Actually, when I heard they were going to release her into the wild I yelled "nooooo" at the radio and hoped that wasn't what happened.

Great story. Thank you for the engrossing hour.

Jul. 07 2012 05:39 PM
Mary from St. Paul, MN

I've never commented on a program before, but was so moved by this sad story. I actually stayed in my car to hear the end of it, again a first. Lucy's plight was tragic from the beginning when mother was drugged so her human parents could get her. I wonder what happened to the mother when she awoke. Then, it sounds like she had a good life until she was abondoned by her adoptive parents. God Bless Janis Carter for her devotion to trying to do and doing so many right things for Lucy. Has there been any attempt to follow up with the adoptive parents, it would be interesting to find out their reaction years later. This was a well done piece. Thanks.

Jul. 07 2012 05:28 PM

I heard this story months ago and cried. I have remembered it many many times since. Then to turn on NPR this afternoon and find myself in the middle of the epilogue again brought me instantly to tears. I was so glad to hear it again despite the sadness. What a profund story with powerful images. Thank you!

Jul. 07 2012 05:06 PM

My daughters and I sat in front of our house in the car listening to the end of Lucy's tale. We were all in tears. This was a great story of animals and human relationships. The three of us went in and hugged our dog for hours.

Jul. 07 2012 04:50 PM

Just google "Janis Carter" and Lucy embracing to see the picture...

Jul. 07 2012 03:44 PM
ellen graham

How can I find the picture of Janis and Lucy hugging on the island.

Jul. 07 2012 01:55 PM
BTP from Oregon

I am happy to know I was not the only one who found this heartwrenching,
but such an important story.
We humans are crowding out our own cousins and relatives.
And without nature, we cannot survive.

Jul. 03 2012 10:43 PM
James Naurot from Baltimore Md

A friend of mine was so moved by this story that she wrote a song about Lucy. Here's the link

May. 12 2012 09:17 AM
Susan slavet from Wellesle,Ma.

iSlavetI loved the Lucy story on radio lab.8I have now sent more than100 friends and family members emails instructing them how to access it as well. And to keep a box of tissues close at hand before streaming it. thank you!! Susan

Apr. 10 2012 09:58 AM
David from Laguna Hills CA

Lucy's story left me in tears in the parking lot. Lots of comments here complaining about animal captivity but this happened 40 yrs ago. Remember when you could smoke on planes, around kids and at the office? The story is about having to make huge, huge decisions about a loved one.

Apr. 05 2012 01:53 PM
Dana from Fullerton

I was driving to LA when I started to listen to the story about Lucy. I loved the story about her life! because that was indeed her Life and amazing journey as we all do experience good or bad. As I read some comments as often as we do we want to blame people for there mistakes but indeed we should learn from our experiences. Are lives are experiences that grow from. Thank you for sharing her life story I thought about her all day and have not stop thinking about her since I heard he story and will now spread her story to others.Thank you Janis for your dedication, passion and love!!! I usually never post my thoughts or comments but this story moved me in so many ways!!!!

Apr. 01 2012 12:12 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 07:59 PM
Travis Tikka from Missoula, Montana

Great story!

But this is the problem with humans taking in animals. We should leave the animals alone and in the wild, that is where they belong. It is an idiotic thing to substitute and animal for a child, it should be ilegall period! Agian, this is a great story, but the ignorant humans caused this problem, as we do with many things.

Feb. 03 2012 01:14 AM
Tracy from Franklin, NC

I've listened to the Lucy story twice now, and I still think about her. In a sense, Lucy had a very human life. Nothing ever ends up as we plan and sometimes it can be tragic.
I'm not angry with the family that raised her, and I find myself small in comparison to Janice. She is a mother by all definitions of the word.

Oct. 17 2011 08:19 PM

Lucy’s life was similar to humans in a lot of ways. The Temerlin raise Lucy in a home and give her the freedom to have her own face. Lucy was taught to match shapes and would often color. She had the ability to draw pictures like a regular child, also the ability to learn and memorize sign language. Lucy knew how to greet individuals with hugs and kisses. Lucy had learn how to respond to re- socialization in terms of learning new behaviors and attitudes that are different from those previously held. As she got older she was much stronger and got very destructive so the Temerlin family had no choice but to send her back the natural habitat. As time process we knew that Lucy would not be able to stay in a home, that is why she was send to Africa. Lucy was very depress over the move, because she was not use to that life style, in the open looking for food. She was so used to being with one set of family which made her aware of herself within that group. After a period of time after she was send to Namibia Lucy got really sick and depress. She was losing hair and would not eat for days. Janis her caretaker went back and upon her arrival she saw Lucy skeleton remains. She was shock and came to the conclusion that because Lucy was so friendly, that maybe someone saw her and Lucy approach him and the took advantage of the situation.

Oct. 17 2011 01:11 PM
Chris from Shepherdstown, WV

One of the most compelling segments on radio ever. It haunts me still.

Jul. 03 2011 12:01 PM
reblstevn from the kwa

What a damn joke. Why is it that the working people of this nation struggle, and misfits who try to disprove nature are rewarded with federal grants. The radio hosts are hopefully and probably not reproducing.

Jun. 02 2011 08:36 PM
Kimberly B.

Lucy's story broke my heart. I hope that she is now at peace. I am moved by Janis Carter's dedication to Lucy and her ongoing attempts to make her tragic end meaningful.

"Men have forgotten this truth... But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

May. 17 2011 09:14 AM
Don from MI

I heard the story of Lucy the ape and it crushed my heart. All I can do now is be happy she's moved on and is with the Lord.

Apr. 20 2011 05:09 PM

Have not forgotten, will never forget. Lucy's tragedy will remain with me always. I hope I can use this pain to change others' destinies.

Apr. 09 2011 04:23 PM
Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas, Texas

I recently heard the story of "Lucy and Janis" for the second time.The story is one of the most poignant NPR has played. Another listener said it best: God bless Lucy and Janis.

Jane Goodall visited my school twice and was one of the most tranquil people I've met. I suspect Janis would be the same. I think they and nature have something to teach us and the politicians around the world.

Mar. 05 2011 10:24 PM

Please copy and paste or type this into your URL if you are unable to view. Posted today. It continues.

Mar. 03 2011 10:12 PM
Grace from Orange, CA

Still grieving days after listening to Ira's show and now I stumble on to this 1 min talk. I don't know if I have the strength to click play, listen and go through the heartbreak again. I just want to thank people like Janis Carter who understand the needs of these vulnerable creatures. I can't express the gratitude and respect I have for her and wish I can do more than sitting in the car crying over Lucy.

Mar. 02 2011 08:31 PM
Sonya from Maryland

Yes, Jad sounds a little similar to Ira but this has never bothered me. I love this show. The topics are so interesting, the sound effects and music are great and I like the interplay between Robert and Jad and their guests. If he sounds like Ira - so what?

Mar. 02 2011 12:01 PM

I tried to get through this episode, but it was difficult because the host sounded so much like a cheap Ira Glass knockoff. Find your own voice, dude. Everything down to the cadence and tempo of Ira's speech was found in this imitator's delivery. So sad.

Mar. 02 2011 11:12 AM

So, weeks later I find myself haunted by yet another aspect of this horrific tragedy, whether it be the day they removed her clothing, the day she left her home, the day she arrived on the island -- did she think what fun it was going out with her family? Refusing to eat ants, yet when Janis was thrown to the ground by a male chimp Lucy ran to her side, held her head, kissed her and fed her ants, then ate some herself clearly in an effort to please and comfort Janis. I cannot let go of this. And always am I haunted by the fact that the animals have no voice. Who has been liberated in this country? Slaves, women, children, all because of a voice that was heard so loudly that it could no longer be ignored. The animals have no voices but our own. They can never achieve the peaceful, free existence to which they are entitled. How do we stop others from benefitting from their pain, how do we give them basic rights? It will take an Amendment to the Constitution to achieve this. Perhaps dedicated walks, publicized, letters -- though letters may be heard, I do not know by whom the mail is read and in fact I have received what I perceived to be standard responses. We must find a way. They cannot do it on their own and this will likely be the only form of bondage that will never be abolished unless we speak -- and speak loudly -- that they have endured enough and we will no longer tolerate it. If anyone has any other suggestions, looking at the big picture and stepping outside that box, please post it for all of us. Posting your support is appreciated by all. We need to take a stand. Imagine if we, collectively, as a group, were present and demanding different action be taken at that time. Would we be grieving after the fact today? Would Lucy have suffered so? I agree with the person who posted that the Temerlins and Janis have blood on their hands, but won't we in the future as well if we do nothing? I pray that Lucy is in a very special place wearing her favorite outfit and preparing tea as she once so loved to do. We must honor this sweet innocent being. Please help.

Mar. 01 2011 10:23 AM
Unicorn Vendetta

Misguided, sad & awful.

Mar. 01 2011 12:05 AM

This might help as well. They would at least surely be able to point you in the right direction.
Let's put the Internet to good use. There are so many people who would not turn their heads or gasp in horror and then go to dinner and forget what they have seen or heard. It is really long overdue for intolerance to cruelty and inhumane treatment as well as intolerance to those who would rather ridicule one who exhibits compassion to avoid feeling the same pain. We each have a chance to make a difference each and very day.

"We welcome your feedback, inquiries and requests. Please use the form below to send us an e-mail; or, if you prefer, please contact us by mail, phone or fax."
The Jane Goodall Institute-USA Headquarters4245 North Fairfax DriveSuite 600Arlington, VA 22203
Telephone: (703) 682-9220
Fax: (703) 682-9312

Feb. 27 2011 11:04 PM

Cassandra, My heart is with you. I'm more passionate than professional so here's a list of agencies that can guide you if not for your specific captive then at least for you to help others (all have websites): Save the Chimps, Release Chimps, NEAVS, Center for Great Apes, Humane Society, and ASPCA. You could call the local ASPCA in Hawaii directly to report suspected abuse. Can anyone else offer some guidance?

Feb. 27 2011 05:31 PM
Wendy T. from Redondo Beach

I am very saddened by Lucy's story.
I too, expected a happy ending.
Carol did try hard to help Lucy. But how could the humans expect Lucy to just revert completely back to her animal nature and be OK out in the wild?
The Temerlins have Lucy's blood on their hands.
I hope we learn from this.

Feb. 27 2011 12:06 PM
cassandra from Los Angeles, CA

Dear Carol, Can we communicate? About chimp kept in topless box that barely contained her, on balcony of large hospital in Hawaii. I was taken to see her in 1980 by my friend who was proud they had her. I have been haunted by her ever since. Are there people/agency who could help get her out of there, if she is still there?

Feb. 27 2011 08:54 AM

Rex. Thanks for responding to me directly. By adjust I mean unfrozen and steadied. Though I'm no authority I've been fighting for the rights of animals , chimpanzees in particular, since I was a child and will continue to do so. Reading these posts has helped me to know that others feel the same way I do and I don't feel so alone. I wish Lucy had been as blessed. Thanks again for caring.

Feb. 26 2011 05:15 PM

And Carol, please don't adjust. We can't adjust or allow our grief to fade. Never forget or stop trying to make a difference. Please.

Feb. 26 2011 12:15 AM

I listened to the podcast. We probably all did, as painful as it was. The caretaker said I have to tell myself that If Lucy was shot by poachers, then it was probably because she approached them -- or ran to greet them or something to that effect. I have to tell myself. I believe those were her words. We can take comfort in that thought necessary for self-preservation or take our blinders off. It was one year before Janice returned. One year. Look at the condition of her body in the photo. Then look
at the condition of her body at home. Zoom in on her limbs. Those of you who cannot see the horrific nature of this act need to listen to it more carefully, perhaps -- and this is so very difficult for us to do -- but perhaps just think for one minute what this creature endured. Living like a chimp??? Really?? It's painful. Endure it. She did.

Feb. 26 2011 12:10 AM

Thanks to everyone who shared their grief for Lucy. You are helping me to adjust to my own. I am sorry, Lucy. So very sorry.

Feb. 25 2011 06:58 PM

Did any of you actually listen to the podcast? She was not just abandoned and then never heard of. Her caretaker spent years, in person, accumulating her to the wild. She only left when Lucy proved that she could sustain herself. And she did. For years. And when her caretaker returned Lucy was living as a chimp.

And Lucy probably wasn't 'brutally murdered.' If she was killed by poachers then like the caretaker said she was most likely shot in self defense. You don't skin a live chimp.

Feb. 25 2011 01:32 AM
jennifer from litchfield,ct.

Okay,so I was heart broken,crying,and furious. It was immediately obvious to me that Lucy was not going to thrive.... ever. I am disgusted that she was being forced to leave her upbringing and that she was left without the love and parenting she grew to understand was part of life. Just as one of us would be devastated if pulled from our own nurturing situations. Failure to thrive! Humans just disgust me at times.

Feb. 24 2011 10:53 PM

I could not agree more. Days later I am still haunted by Lucy's story. I have e-mailed Jane Goodall for more information and to find out what I can personally do to contribute to change. I also asked if she was aware of the story at the time. I cannot forget this, though that would be a very human thing to do. If it is not in front of us, we forget. We cannot forget this. I have forwarded a site for her story to everyone I know and have asked for their help. We need to make changes --and we can -- in numbers. We need to give animals a voice. Because they do not have the ability to communicate WITH US, we somehow feel that we have the right of ownership and are permitted by law to manipulate their lives and destinies. Lucy's case is the extreme and we can only honor her by pursuing the institution of animal rights, including the right to live amongst their species in her case and not in zoos as in the case of her mother, as well as fighting for strict penalties of abuse of this right. It seems overwhelming, but so was her sorrow. Please think of a way to have an impact. Raise your voices L-O-U-D, loud enough to be honor of this sweet soul who suffered so.

Feb. 24 2011 10:28 PM

I'd like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realised that humans are not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. Instead you multiply, and multiply, until every resource is consumed. The only way for you to survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern... a virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer on this planet, you are a plague, and we... are the cure.

Feb. 24 2011 08:55 PM

Days later I’m still haunted by this story.

We taught Lucy that she had a family and then orphaned her. We taught her it was proper to wear clothing and then stripped her naked. We taught her she was human and then abandoned her to live like an animal. We taught her to communicate and then ignored her words and her pain. We taught her to love and then taught her she was no longer worthy of it.

She could never ask why. Why?

Feb. 24 2011 12:42 PM

Dr. Carter has proven good things can come from accepting our mistakes and working to change the circumstances that lead us to make them in the first place. Though there is nothing we can do for Lucy NEAVS and Fauna Foundation are two more organizations that are working to improve the lives of captive chimpanzees. The love and dedication is inspiring.

Feb. 23 2011 04:50 PM

I do not understand what provokes people to question one's empathy for the human race when they express sorrow and pain for the suffering of an animal -- in this case, an 11 yr old who was abandoned to live in the wilderness with a species she did not recognize, being raised as a child with love, nurture, shelter -- making tea for guests!?!? Then being left, alone, frightened, and painfully sad. She has wound on her limbs in the photo which I would rather not imagine how she developed, then the photo of the embrace and her walking away not looking back because of the pain. She accepted her lot -- and loved in spite of it.. Now that sickens me, and believe it or not I still have the ability -- and do grieve --over human suffering. One does not preclude the other. Janis may have gone on to do wonderful things but it does not make up for the suffering of one creature who loved and longed for the human touch once lavished upon and subsequently denied her.

Feb. 22 2011 08:57 PM
David from Philippines

The ulr for the slide show that includes the image talked about in the story:

Feb. 22 2011 05:45 PM

Too many here are tremendously harsh on this couple and even Janice. I wonder if they are as full empathy for the human victims of our never ending wars. It should be noted that Janis did the impossible to make an easier transition for Lucy -including sleeping in a cage herself.

Feb. 21 2011 09:32 PM
Vesna from New Orleans, LA

As much as I would like to scold the Termelins and Janis Carter for the abandonment and harsh approach used to rehabilitate Lucy back to the wild, as a listener, I unlike either of them, know how tragically Lucy’s life ended. Had the Termelins or Janis known what Lucy’s fate would be at the start of the rehabilitation, perhaps they would have made better choices for Lucy's welfare.

I take solace in knowing that Janis Carter increased her work at protecting the chimpanzee’s habitat in the wild.

Feb. 21 2011 09:29 PM

Lucy's story is a tragedy. She is the only hero in this story. Everyone else involved, regardless of intention, shares responsibility in her abandonment, torture, and demise. Lucy has truly provided us with a link to the thoughts and feelings of other species. Hopefully she will be heeded more in death than ever she was in life.

Feb. 21 2011 08:40 PM
Moved by Lucy from Los Angeles

I listened to this on This American Life yesterday and have thought of nothing else since. I slept restlessly thinking about the pain and actually torture Lucy went through and how educated humans encouraged that to happen. The humans who orchestrated her life from infancy on are on the same level as the poachers who brutally murdered her in the end. Her life story needs to be told to prevent this from happening again. I'm sorry Lucy you were betrayed by those who pretended to love you, and perhaps in their ignorant although educated minds probably believed they did.

Feb. 21 2011 04:49 PM
Risa Leverenz from Vancouver, WA

This story broke my heart. I heard it yesterday morning, and have been unable to stop the tears. The Termerlin's, at the very least, were incredibly selfish and irresponsible. How could these educated people not realize what the future held for Lucy? That she would grow strong, and be uncontrollable like most teenagers? Wouldn't it be convenient if we could find our children a new home when they become difficult? I keep replaying the conversation between Janis and Lucy--"Janis, you come!" "Lucy, you go!" She was desperate for the only contact she ever had, she was confused, and the heartbreak she must have been feeling is unbearble for me to comprehend. Once again I find myself dissapointed in the human race. We don't deserve the amazing gifts nature has provided us. This story will haunt me forever.

Feb. 21 2011 01:56 PM
PM from San Diego

Unbelievable - like the above comments, I stopped what I was doing to listen to the story. And was similarly shocked. The complete lack of ethical or moral consideration for Lucy's well-being is just as surprising as her "human" development. Would any species raised as a human, as we were raised, be able to survive in the African jungle with a foreign species? How could smart people be so...stupid? Even if living in a cage, at least Lucy would have the interaction with what she believes is her own.

Feb. 21 2011 12:22 PM
Rosemarie from Hawthorne

I am a healthcare provider as interested in science as the next who found myself driving on the New York Thruway last evening crying, partially from frustration and partially from anger. We humans delude ourselves into concluding what we believe animals want or feel in order to justify our often inhumane behavior. It is clear that what Lucy wanted was to be with humans as that is all she knew and/or wanted. Her physical condition showed that she was in distress. It was beyond cruel to leave her on an island with no human contact. The moment they removed her from her mother, exposed her to only humans, taught her to eat with utensils and be soothed by human touch they should have been committed to continue this at all costs. Having no guarantee that that would be possible and clearly having no foresight -- or perhaps always considering the option of leaving her, this should NEVER have occurred. We manipulate their lives in a way that we have NO right to do. This is a sickening example, and only one of many, of how barbaric humans can be. It is beyond my comprehension that this was permitted at all. They have a voice, we just won't listen.

Feb. 21 2011 09:24 AM

I also stopped my car to listen, and I'm left with a knotted ball of emotion that's part "hurt" and part confused. It feels like a tragic story of this magntiude needs an "evil-doer" we can lay blame on, but it frightens me that this road to "Hell" was actually paved with a series of good intentions. The Tamerlins (though maybe naive or a bit self centered) didn't expect or want the story to end so tragically, and I'm going to guess that even the poachers (should that have been her cause of death) didn't think they were killing such a tender and intelligent being.

If we pride our sense of "self-awareness" as a hallmark of intelligence, then perhaps even greater intelligence can be gained through the practice of "other-awareness" (e.g. empathy, recognition of, and sensitivity to other sentience beings).

Feb. 21 2011 01:09 AM

I haven't been able to stop crying over Lucy's tragedy. It was the wrong conclusion to assume she wanted to be with the other chimps. She was exploited, traumatized, abandoned, and finally murdered. I am sorry to say that her human parents have blood on their hands.

Feb. 20 2011 11:11 PM
Neal from Houston, TX

I listened to this story while running errands today. I sat in the parking lot at the grocery store thinking I was going to hear the end of a heart warming story and instead have been sad all day. I still don't know why they dumped their chimpanzee, but a far more humane thing would have been to put her down rather than subject her to her final betrayal and torture. Inexcusable!

Feb. 20 2011 11:05 PM
julie lindholm from AZ

Causing suffering is not science. We need better laws in Gambia but definitely in the US as well.

Feb. 20 2011 09:21 PM
Dennis Farber

At the end of this heartbreaking story, I found Mr. Temerlin as guilty for Lucy's murder as the poachers who killed her. And, if Janice knew the island was subject to poachers, she, too, is culpable. I hope you will all boycott Mr, Temerlin's attempt to profit from Lucy's life.

Feb. 20 2011 07:35 PM
Beverly from Reston, Va.

I only learned today of Lucy's story and have not been able to stop crying. All the comments I read above reflect my sorrow of the way she was abandoned when she became difficult for them. What in the world were they expecting? Had they no heart at all? Weren't there other alternatives? More exercise, even medication, behavior modification? The cruelty and arrogance of the psychologists made me ashamed to be human. Thanks to the other commenters who made me know my feelings are shared.

Feb. 20 2011 07:12 PM
Prudy from Mass

I stopped my car to listen to this story.
One must learn not to tamper with other's
lives, in such a way. To think that they were doing good, is no excuse. To take a baby from a mother is inexcusable. To take Lucy from her habitat and expect a happy ending is ignorance.

Feb. 20 2011 04:59 PM
Deborah from New Jersey

This left me with a sleepless night, and an aching heart.

Feb. 20 2011 04:50 PM

PETA has been working on legislation to ban the use of nonhuman primates in entertainment.
Apes we see in ads and movies are discarded after the age of 7 or 8. When apes smile, they are frightened (not goofy happy). Rarely do those who exploit the apes pay for the costly care it takes to keep the apes happy and healthy until 40 or 50 years old.
The Center for Great Apes cares for many of the famous characters used in the entertainment industry.
I highly recommend Charles Siebert's book, The Wauchula Accord. He eloquently writes of the broader issues around the use and misuse of great apes in entertainment and research.
I find it's more satisfying to use my anguish and outrage at stories like Lucy's to do something productive. Sign petitions, write letters to legislators and newspapers, donate to worthwhile organizations.

Feb. 20 2011 02:29 PM

I hope the Temerlins didn't have kids.

Feb. 20 2011 02:07 PM
Cathleen T from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

After hearing the conclusion of this story, I couldn't stop crying, thinking of Lucy's tragic death. What a horrific thing to do to a creature, whether human or animal. Lucy had been raised like a human, including being taught to communicate with humans and to see them as sexually attractive. She depended on her humans for love and life, and she was abandoned in a most cruel and heartless manner. I am offended by the hypocrisy of the Temerlins in calling her their daughter and then shipping her away to a world completely alien to her.

Even if she had become inclined to interact with the other chimps on the island and tried to communicate with them as she had been taught to do via sign language, they would never understand her intention, much less her meaning.

There is an excellent program on the Animal Planet channel, "Escape to Chimp Eden", focusing on a Jane Goodall sponsored sanctuary in South Africa which tries to rehabilitate chimps like Lucy in a natural, though protected, environment. The ultimate goal is to be able to release them back into the wild, but they acknowledge that some of the chimps have been so badly abused that they may never be ready for such a move.

Unfortunately, Animal Planet cancelled the show after only two seasons, but the people at Chimp Eden continue to help these abused animals. Bravo to Eugene Cussons, Philip Cronje, and the rest of the staff there.

Feb. 19 2011 06:11 PM
Stacey B. from Orange County

I like many listeners shed tears while listening to the story of Lucy. I agree with other comments that bringing a wild animal into ones home out of its natural environment entails a lifetime committment to taking care of the animal. I was shocked and dismayed to hear that Lucy's original owner thought it was fine to introduce her to the wild which after living a very human existence she was ill equipped to survive at all. I admire Janis greatly for trying to give the chimps a chance in the wild and for remaining until she thought even Lucy had made decision to join the others, she is truly a remarkable, admirable women. I think the story genuinely shows that chimpanzees do experience emotions, deserve compassion and most of all deserver a chance to live their own natural lives and not be treated so inhumanely as experiments. I really enjoyed the story all though it was heartbreaking.

Feb. 19 2011 05:09 PM
ssnow from little rock, ar

The Yearling... Old Yeller... Bambi... and, now, most tragically (because her story is not fable), dearest Lucy. Most who abandon animals can convince themselves that the animal doesn't know the difference and will live happily ever after. There is no excuse for the humans in this story. Lucy, thanks to the efforts of those who left her, expressed her feelings strongly and clearly, leaving no doubt that she was experiencing psychological pain. For all of the humans who "cared" for her to abandon her is beyond comprehension... and forgiveness.

Feb. 19 2011 04:48 PM
sally from sarasota, florida

Such a sad and cruel story for poor Lucy, who tried so hard to fit in and try and keep the love she knew close to her. In hindsight, it seems a more humane ending to Lucy's struggle would have been euthanasia. I wonder how long she wandered in search of Janis and mourning her lost friend, before she reached her trusting hand out to the wrong person, who rewarded that kindness with cruelty and murder. Such a tragedy.

Feb. 19 2011 04:45 PM

This was so difficult on so many a therapist I am aghast at the lack of common sense some "scientists" display...poor wonderful creature Lucy who loved so deeply and tried so hard with her human usurpers. She loved them without conditions, they confused her with a "subject" experiment, no, a tragedy yes, and perhaps her death finally freed her. To love her in her in-between state was the only compassionate option left once she had been taught to be attached to sorry no one saw that and let her live out her life in her own way.
Thank you radiolab for the touching story reminding us humans to revere the mysteries of life and stop trying to play god.

Feb. 19 2011 03:39 PM

The tears I shed for Lucy and all Animals who have met Lucy's fate are drying now, but the words of Janis will remain forever. Give me Lucy as a friend vs 75% of humanity who walk amoung us.

Feb. 19 2011 03:05 PM
Richard Kallao from Chicago, ill.

When we change an animal's world and take away everything that is natural for it, we have begun a lifetime responsibility to that animal. We become responsible for the welfare, the safety, and the future of that animal's life. That is a commitment that should be made only after much thought and soul searching. It is a commitment not done for the sake of an 'experiment'. It is a commitment to be done only for the sake of love.

Rick Kallao

Feb. 19 2011 02:42 PM
Jim from Southern Maine

It seems that the thing that Lucy most needed to be taught, as she was left alone, was that there were other humans out there that she should not trust, who could come and kill her, and cut off the hands that she had learned to communicate with, because of the greed, ignorance, superstition, and market/demand of their fellow "humans".

I can only imagine what Lucy's reaction would be, if it were possible to somehow communicate it to her. Perhaps it would be as incomprehensible to her as it is to us.

A story that leaves the listener wondering who the true "animals" in this story are. (possibly an offensive comparison to animals...)

Although the inappropriateness of taking the young chimp out of the wild is obvious, it was amazing to learn about the intelligence and emotional capability that Lucy was able to demonstrate and communicate.

Although the story of Lucy though tragically, has ended, the poachers work continues for other primates that were left in the wild. Perhaps we could adopt one of our sad traditions, by creating enhanced law that would stop this poaching. We could call it Lucy's Law.

Feb. 19 2011 02:07 PM
Chih-Chiun Chen from Chicago

I did not know this was what happened to Lucy at the end till I listened to the radio program today. I am so hurt for Lucy, who was caring, trusting, and defenseless, to have to suffer abandonment, loneliness, and a horrific death.
People likely do not know what scientific contribution Dr Temerlin has made, but they sure will remember him as one of those heartless, self-serving people who abandons even his "daughter" once it becomes inconvenient. This is the kind of cruel and selfish people who give science a bad name. We can, and have learned so much more about chimps by methods that are responsible and sensitive to chimps' well being.

Feb. 19 2011 02:36 AM

I just came looking for the photo, too. It's in a slide show, here:

Feb. 18 2011 09:32 PM
Ellen Powell

I just heard a re-broadcast about Lucy and Sue and came to see the photo of the two of them embracing, as described in the program, but alas, cannot find it. Is it still here somewhere?

Feb. 18 2011 09:09 PM

This heart wrenching story only further more points out the needlessness of human interaction with wild animals..This story is an absolute tragedy that could have been avoided if laws were in place to protect them. We are affected by this because we think we see humanity in Lucy, but in fact, all great apes are endowed with a sense of self, show love, anger, longing, Lucy was not an exception, o think she was just more trusting. Her death was unnecessary, as well as the years she spent in agony, hoping for love and compassion she thought she was entitled too. I am a fervent believer in science as a tool to learn about about nature and our surroundings but I am in agreement that these "what if scenarios" and side show style curiosities are an afront on nature and a misuse of time and money. To someone like me this is just as jarring and blatantly inappropriate as slavery and should be treated as such but society.

Feb. 05 2011 04:00 PM
Emily from Wisconsin

My heart just breaks for Lucy. Lucy was raised like a human and became like one of us. I do not believe in evolution or that we are "cousins" to the apes, but I do believe that this chimp displayed real emotion and gained remarkable understanding and insight. I do believe that Lucy really believed she was "one of us." Then, at a most pivotal age the Temerlins cast her aside and abandoned her. I can't understand why the Temerlins would raise her like their own daughter and then when it got tough, just abandon her. How cruel, sick and inhumane. Poor Lucy!! I think Janis did the best she could, but ultimately, I believe Janis made a horrible mistake by leaving Lucy in the wild. Lucy never would have completely adapted. Lucy needed to be with the humans she loved and who loved her. On that island with the other chimps, Lucy felt abandoned, confused, and alone. And then to be killed in a horrific way. What a tragic ending. Janis could have placed Lucy in a zoo where she could have been loved on and cared for. Instead, she was left without her human companions, alone and vulnerable. What the Termelins did to her was beyond words wrong, and it angers me. What humans often do to animals in the name of "science" shows our depravity and it is so sad.

Jul. 23 2010 03:52 PM
John from Boca Raton, Florida

This story had such a tragic ending! I also was crying at the end. I was hoping that somehow Lucy would be fully rehabilitated, but my most accounts, when humans mingle with other apes, the consequences for the apes are often bleak. One exemption when I was in Borneo, Malaysia, I saw how preservationist would rehabilite orphan orangutans into the wild again with very little human contact. I hope this story will provide new insights into animal rehabilitation

Jul. 15 2010 11:59 AM
Kathleen "Teeny" Metcalfe from Anchorage Alaska

Your story on Lucy the chimp provided a "driveway moment" for my niece and nephew the other day.

We had been doing errands all day in the car and everyone was quiet when the story began. I thought I was the only one listening but when I pulled into the drive and turned the car off, my 13 and 14 year old niece and nephew loudly protested. I left them in the car to listen to the rest of the story.

My 14 year old niece had never heard of NPR and I'm hoping you have made her a life long listener.

Jul. 10 2010 01:48 PM
Sarafaith Pekor from Fort Lauderdale

This piece was absolutely devestating to me. I feel deeply for Janis and I hope that telling the story will help to heal her pain - she certainly did as much as she could for Lucy. As for the "psychological experiment" of which Lucy was a victim - and I would like to see the people responsible in jail for crimes against nature. The heartless suffering inflicted on Lucy, her abandonment and her death will haunt me forever.

Jul. 09 2010 06:43 PM
Bret A. Foley from coral springs florida

i'd say that janis carter ( and roger fouts ) are the human heros here : those swine the temerlins are obviously NOT . there's a different mode of thought between these two groups; flesh for profit vs. our family . sadly , for our species , profit trumps family almost every time .THANK YOU RADIO LAB !!!!

Jul. 09 2010 04:19 PM
Christi in Anchorage from United States

Listening to this story made my heart ache to the very core of me… for Lucy and for all of those who we have taken in, captured, trapped, removed from all that is familiar and then cast them aside when we tire of them; or when the guilt for having taken them out of their natural surroundings becomes so great we somehow feel honor bound to return them, totally unprepared to cope with what is no longer “natural” to them because of our decision to take them in the first place. Why is it that we involve ourselves so deeply in the lives of these and other mammals and then feel the need to thrust them into, at that point, a totally foreign element? How very cruel and self centered we can be? We’re supposed to have the bigger brain and it pains me how we use it sometimes. I will never forget the anguish I could feel for Lucy and how those she, in her innocence, trusted. We so let her down in such a big way, eventually killing her at the hands she only knew to trust. Those critters that give us a wide birth are the wisest among them… but we must kill them outright or trap, capture and hold them to us until we tire of them. How very pathetic our species can be.

Jul. 09 2010 01:47 AM
John from Chicago, IL

What's the web address of the photos? Thanks.

Jun. 20 2010 04:47 PM
varunkle from denver

Black Pines Animal Park takes care of wild animals that get "too big" to be in homes. This story and others are nuts. We need laws to stop all this type of "ownership." Chimps, alligators, pumas (yes, a puma), tigers, lions, dozens of iguanas.... why do people think they need to have these animals.
Good article, but to what end? When will we change laws?

Jun. 20 2010 04:44 PM
Tricia Kovack from Los Angeles

What a sad sad story. I heard it on This American Life and cannot believe how the "scientist" at the beginning of the story talk so lighthearted about Lucy. What a tragic tale. I have a pit in my stomach about it.

May. 26 2010 05:34 PM
Vicki from Port St Lucie FL

I am just sobbing at Lucy's demise. From the beginning I thought what sort of idiot was this who brought home a "daughter" and this can't turn out well. I can't imagine how many lines were crossed for what? What a tragedy.

May. 22 2010 01:48 PM
Craig Federhen from Kingston, NH

I've been cleaning out my grandparents' house and found an April 1981 issue of Smithsonian magazine with an article called "A Journey to Freedom" by Janis Carter. There are several pictures of Lucy. Janis was still living in the "cage" that the British soldiers put up for her at the time (there's a picture of that too). Some interesting things in it:
(1) Janis bubbles with optimism through most of the article (everything in Smithsonian seems to be optimistic), but she's guarded when referring to Lucy. She refers only briefly to Lucy's checkered past.
(2) We discover that Lucy nearly died from a cobra bite. Lucy, of course, had no idea what a cobra was at the time.
(3) The article contains a very sad sub-story (and photo) involving two chimps (not Lucy) and a red colobus monkey. Chimps are not noble. Janis handles the incident rather badly.
(4) Janis notes that she and the Temerlins were inspired by the successful work of Stella Brewer with orphaned chimps in Senegal. There is no explanation of why Stella wasn't put in charge of Lucy.
"Dyske from New York" posted a link to Stella Brewer's commentary on the Lucy affair ( She's sharply critical of Janis Carter, and also notes that Jane Goodall (who knows a thing or two about chimps) didn't like the project either. Neither Stella Brewer nor Jane Goodall were mentioned in the Radiolab story; perhaps they should have been.
It's hard to be harsh on Janis Carter, who clearly meant well and worked hard through tougher circumstances than most of us would be willing to put up with. There's no denying the heart-breaking intensity of that final photograph. It's also hard to be easy on the Temerlins, who were guilty of gross animal cruelty and should have been sentenced to be raised by chimps (and who've also reinforced my longstanding distrust of psychiatrists).
The final words come from Stella Brewer: "What a sorry bunch we are…"

May. 21 2010 01:41 AM
Don from Oklahoma City

I knew Maury Temmerlin and was in his home 4 or 5 times, althought I did not have contact with Lucy then.My connection with him was as a therapist. I did not have a high regard for him, and I still do not. I thought he was a very self serving person.

May. 19 2010 06:42 PM
Michelle from Alexandria

Such a sad story. Regardless, if the Temerlin's did it in the name of science, Lucy's transformation form a wild chimp into a domesticated pet is and will always go against nature. I really don't understand why the Temerlin would decide to release Lucy in an unguarded wild. She obviously never intergrated fully. She would have been better off in a secured place.

May. 17 2010 10:56 AM
joey racano from Los osos Calif

Animals long held in captivity always have a rough go when released, of course. But done properly, it is certainly doable and in fact, I've done lot's of it myself. The case for Orcas is better than most- they have brilliant scientists and caring activists with a great reintroduction plan, a good track record, and most of all, the whales pods are easy to locate and very eager to take over the process.

Finally, it is a great crime against the world to hold these creatures, but a greater crime to teach our children it is somehow justified.

May. 14 2010 08:40 PM
Patricia A Killian from Maplewood NJ

I have been in a terrible funk for the past 21 hours, since listening to the painful and tragic tale of Lucy. How we humans amuse ourselves by virtually wiping out entire species of great apes: chimps, gorillas, orangutans. And the few we don't wipe out, say Lucy for example, we torture until she's poached. This is story about how utterly dispicable humans are. While it needs to be told, it is horrible.

May. 12 2010 12:32 PM
Thencasti Paulino from The Bronx

I just heard this radio lab episode and was fascinated but at the same time shocked. I was shocked because poor lucy is treated like an object. She is brought up like a child and then, when she's too inconvenient, they send her away to the "wild" where she's forced to fit in as an animal. It's true that these wild animals are meant to be in the wild(natural habitat) but an animal that is raised in captivity is no longer a wild animal...I find the whole experiment very insensitive and cruel.

May. 11 2010 09:53 PM
cat from long island

A true romantic-tragedy. I also had to sit in my car after reaching my destination because I needed to hear the end of this story. While it is a beautiful story, it is also a cautionary tale: our impact as humans goes far beyond most of what we can imagine or predict, in spite of our best intentions. Truly sad, but true.

May. 11 2010 08:14 PM
Nick from Upper West Side

God protect animals from narcissistic and insane human beings, with their "science" and "concepts".

Nature has done everything for us. We have done nothing for nature; we don't deserve it.

May. 11 2010 04:13 PM
L.M. from New York

From what I understand, this experiement with this chimp was decades ago when the rights of circus/ zoo/experiemental animals were not considered by human law as much as today. The problem is too, that baby chimps ( and other primates) tend to be cute and "manageable" up until they reach a few years in age. Then they resort to some wild behavior even if they are used to being among humans and otherwise acting like humans. I have heard that a lot of human-adopted baby chimps have had to be sent to some sanctuary or zoo or even be rehabilitated back to the wild after having had been a pet for about three or four years. I recall a TV show sometime in the 1980s in which it was shown how a woman rehabilitated a group of labaratory chimps whom otherwise would have been euthanized or perhaps put in roadside zoos in which they would be caged and neglected. The chimps were taught to be wild and live without human intervention. When the woman returned to the island where she last left them, she found them all alive and surviving well and one female chimp was even a mother. So the story of Lucy is not the only one. Also there have been other stories of other wild animals being rehabilitated back in the wild.
There is a need for strong laws against exotic pets.

Apr. 24 2010 07:33 PM

Is this story written in a book? i wanted to purchase it if it is- but can't find it.

Apr. 24 2010 02:20 PM
Gary from near NYC

The Temerlin's had said they toured a number of facilities meant for housing primates and were unsatisfied with the conditions. They felt there was no way they could leave Lucy at such a place, and so they decided it would be best to let her return to her natural habitat.

I'm surprised that the University of Oklahoma faculty approved of this decision to let Lucy live in the wild on "Baboon Island". She clearly had no conditioning for such a life, being so well tuned to living with humans.

So, the Temerlin mistake became the Janis Carter solution. It is amazing how devoted she was to ensuring a successful transition for the chimps under her watch, including Lucy. Especially considering the primitive conditions she endured.

@paul from Concord, I would not condemn Maurice and Jane Temerlin to that degree. They certainly cared very well for Lucy when she was in their charge. It was obviously a mistake to overlook the ramifications of the decisions they'd have to make once Lucy matured. At that time, it sounds like they didn't have a lot of choice and probably agonized over their decision. I suspect they really believed that Lucy could adjust back to native life. And actually, it sounds like Janis was successful at doing it! It's just so sad that the island wasn't under any kind of surveillance or had any overt warnings to discourage possible poachers.

Apr. 23 2010 06:05 PM
paul from Concord, Ca.

Once again, this story demonstrates just how we are no different than the so called “animals” we share this planet with. We witness both extremes by the way Dr. Maurice K. Temerlin and his wife Jane showed heinous and deplorable disregard for another sentient being (their “daughter”), contrasted with the total unconditional devotion to Lucy’s well-being as shown by Janis Carter. To Janis, it is my wish that Lucy awaits you at Rainbow Bridge were there is no pain or suffering, no barrier to communication and where you can once again embrace each other in caring and unconditional love. And to Dr. Maurice and Jane Temerlin, may you endure the same abandonment and loneliness in your final years that you bestowed upon poor Lucy, and may your body parts also be “poached” for callus resale, upon your ultimate demise.

Apr. 23 2010 02:09 AM
MLara from Santa Rosa, Ca

This was such a heartbreaking and tragic story. I could not stop crying. I feel so awful for poor trusting Lucy.

Apr. 22 2010 04:36 PM
bleau from sf

why even call lucy's 'experiment' a failure..
lucy was loved- proof shows through the last image.
No fault that bastards do exist in the world.
I see this death as it was just lucy's time to go.
what a touching story.

Apr. 22 2010 12:01 AM
Rachel from denver

This story makes me so sad. I read the book hurt go happy by ginny rorby. I know her and its very touching

Apr. 16 2010 07:01 PM
Ron Ward from Bloomington, Minnesota

I like reading these comment boards, especially for such a moving piece of journalism, but I don’t ever participate. After reading some of the comments critical of Janis Carter’s efforts to rehabilitate the first chimps, and Lucy, I feel compelled to chime in.

Have you ever thought you were really doing the right thing, but later found out it wasn’t that easy? If not on Baboon Island, where should Lucy have lived? She was dangerous, and I have to believe that making the best of it on that island was better than sitting in a cage with the belief you’re human, but caged nonetheless because the other humans are afraid of you and cannot control you.

Those of you critical of Janis Carter – do you think it was an experiment – do you think it was easy to get that last heartfelt hug from Lucy? Does anyone really know better than Janis and Lucy?

Apr. 14 2010 12:29 PM
Suzie from Duluth, MN

I think it was cruel for Lucy's captors to play with and encourage her sexual interest in humans. How could she possibly go into the wild if she was raised to believe she was human? The Tamerlins were incredibly foolish and thoughtless to attempt a "study" like this. Any parent who abandons their child is chastised in society and this couple deserves the same.

A haunting, captivating story. Thanks for sharing it.

Apr. 13 2010 04:01 PM
Francesca Ferrentelli from St. Louis, MO

Radiolab continues to keep me in my car! It reminds me what great radio can be! I just heard the powerful and compelling story about Lucy and Janis Carter. Although the photograph of Lucy and Janis hugging was mentioned a few times, I was not prepared for the emotion I felt when I saw it! Janis Carter is an inspiration. What continues to haunt me, what I still can't wrap my mind around, is the fact that her parents gave her away after rearing her as a human! Thanks for showing us the glimmer of humanity amidst the shadow side of science.

Apr. 13 2010 10:29 AM
fred from highland park

this website is not vey good. after listening to the great stories, i was defintely interested in learning more and seeing the images I. Glass' doppleganger himself urged listeners to see at aforementioned site. where the heck are the images? I know that i had better luck searching throu googl images.

Apr. 11 2010 03:01 PM
Wendy Currie from Chester, VT

Lucy's story is gripping and horrific. I am appalled at the treatment of this animal under the guise of science. There is a delicate process to releasing an animal who is used to humans into the wild and often it cannot be done. My questions are these: 1. Was it humane to release Lucy? (Was it humane to take her in the first place?) 2. Was Janis' protracted goodbye humane or in the best interest of Lucy? 3. Is there anyone who will take these people to task for the irresponisible, reprehensible treatment of Lucy? 3. What will happen to the chimps on the island? Are they neutered and spayed? Is the habitat sustainable? (ie: Will they all starve or be murdered?)

Apr. 11 2010 08:07 AM
Dean from royal oak, mi

What a heartbreaking story. Very painful to listen to but I'm grateful to radiolab for bringing it to us. Stories like this sometimes remind us how cruel humans can be even with the best of intentions (the Temerlins) and also how selfless and kind they can be (Janis). May you rest in peace Lucy. This world was very cruel to you.
This story also made me think of how we abuse and kill other magnificent creatures of this earth for our needs: Cosmetic testing, medical testing, crash testing, using gorilla hands for ash trays, cutting out shark fins for soup, taking tusks of elephants, and so on and so on. It's a sad world and Lucy's story was knife-in-the-gut reminder.

Apr. 09 2010 11:51 PM
Niki Ghini McKenzie from Poppi, Italy

I had friends in SF who were part of a program with the SF Zoo where some people were allowed to socialize with the primates. These people (donors, aficionados, researchers) were allowed to go inside the primates' quarters at meal time, sharing proximity and touching the animals. Some of the smaller animals were let lose in the trees when the zoo was closed to public. For Xmas the gorillas would receive gift wrapped boxes with toys and fruit and I have seen images of a patron and donor of the zoo playfully wrestle with a gorilla (I had photo documentation of these events that I tried selling to Italian magazines.) The program was abruptly cut abruptly by the Zoo's management in retaliation for criticism regarding the decisions to trade a sick baby chimp with another Zoo, was fed to the press by the Friends of the Primates in hope of delaying the exchange that may have killed the animal at that time.
All of the sudden all privileged accesses were prohibited and of course who paid the biggest price were the animals who could not understand why the "friends" were not coming anymore to see, touch and play with them anymore. I can imagine they must have felt betrayed and started throwing feces and stuff at them when they showed outside their cages. How do you explain to them it's not our fault we still love you? I was lucky to be let in one of the cages by a sympathetic guard and my friends noticed that one of the big moon-faced Orangutan had taken to spitting at people, a habit he did not have before. There was a chimp that had been raised by humans like Lucy and she could be sweet and let you touch her silky hand but she could also be unpredictably mean. Can you blame her? Moral of the story, don't mess with the animals, don't project ideas that they can become us, down the line there will be a moment when they outgrow their child like/cute puppy stage and become dangerous, wild animals, what then?

Mar. 28 2010 01:29 PM
Sandra Sclnik from France

wow this story blew me away...thank you!

Mar. 19 2010 01:53 PM
Mary C. from Minnesota

Heart wrenching story. And emblematic, I think, of the extremes our humanity involves - the arrogance of the Temerlins in their apparently whimsical "experiment" with another sentient being, and the remarkable love and valor demonstrated by Janis Carter to rectify the damage done to this poor chimp, and then to further try and teach humans to behave more humanely.

The story is also a great morality lesson. I keep hoping that one day, at least in the U.S., we'll correct the notion that we can do anything we please to animals and the natural world just to satisfy our desires.

Mar. 06 2010 10:48 PM
Danielle from New York City

I found one discrepancy in Carter's account of Lucy's end having to do with where the hands and feet of Lucy were found. Carter's account on the show seemed to suggest although the hands were separated they were found near the body where as other accounts I've heard state they were missing? Lucy was 21 yo when she met her tragic end. Perhaps the older chimps were sacrificed to appease the poor to leave the younger generations alone? I can't help but think it's odd all the older chimps are accounted as meeting a "tragic end". A bit mysterious for my suspicious mind.

Mar. 05 2010 01:29 AM
martin from Grand Forks, ND

2 things 1) just wow! 2) Lucy was an exception! she wasn't an 'animal!' Don't understand how they could not see that - despite all of the issues they had with her in the 'civilized' (and i use that VERY losely here) world!

Mar. 04 2010 05:00 PM
emy from seattle, wa

a great story. i am extremely saddened and heartbroken, but thankful at the same time for having come across this tragic story. and it IS tragic. without fancy psychology or discerning prudence, it is simply heartbreaking.

there is no word to describe the extent of arrogance, cruelty and irresponsible harm humans could inflict on other beings, especially animals and the environment, in the name of science and "humanity".

having the ability to acquire knowledge, and applying that knowledge to something, is a special and marvelous skill that we have as human beings. and with knowing what we know, it would be irresponsible and repugnantly ignorant to think that such an experiment could be perceived as "well intended misguidance", and/or "good effort".

shame on the Temerlins for calling Lucy their "daughter", and developing and creating that parent/daughter bond, and then *DUMPING* her in a completely foreign and extrinsic place. we *know* that we would not do that to a *human* family member, and we certainly would not do that to ourselves. the exception would be those who *choose* to do so, such as reality tv show contestants...

in my opinion, Janice Carter deserves greater recognition for her amazing dedication and altruism. she was not the one who started this boorish experiment.

a reader of the Smithsonian article articulated it perfectly:

"...The fact that she could communicate and was so stubborn about not wanting to go was just all the more heartbreaking. Not only could you "assume" that she didn't want to go live in the wild, you knew because she could actually talk through her sign language. What a tragic story. Poor Lucy."

Posted by Sarah on February 22,2010 | 06:34 PM

Read more:

Mar. 04 2010 01:29 PM
Aninka from Jersey City, NJ

REALLY GOOD podcast. Thank you.

Mar. 04 2010 08:35 AM
Fee from NYC

This show made me subsequently sad and angry, very angry at the humans who INSIST on projecting their need for superiority onto other beings. The thought of Lucy being abandoned in the wild by her parents was just hurtful and cruel. And to abuse her in the manner that they did is even worse (and by abuse, I mean stealing her from her mother and raising her to be a well trained pet). Every thing about Lucy and her treatment has left me feeling so disturbed and the terrible way she's just unthinkable. And to the scientist who expected Kanzi (the Bonobo from the related story) to live up to man's--and not the Bonobo's own innate values....well he deserved to have his hand bitten...hopefully he learned a less that wasn't about getting the ape to conform, but about understanding the dangers of not respecting the code and the boundaries of social animals that are similar to us, but not like us.

Feb. 28 2010 12:19 PM
Dyske from New York

Sorry the link somehow got truncated. So, here's the shorter version:

Feb. 27 2010 11:53 PM
Dyske from New York

Here is an article that offers a counterpoint to this story:

None of us knows what really went on, and what the circumstances were. So, I don't think we are in a position to criticize Janis Carter, but by the same token, perhaps jumping to praise her as a hero isn't perhaps the appropriate thing either. It would probably be wise to put any judgment aside. The bottom line is that this is a tragic story; and we should learn from it.

Feb. 27 2010 11:46 PM
Janet Miller

While it is clear that Janis Carter certaintly dedicated more time and effort to helping Lucy than her so called human "parents" (who seemed to easily forget her once they left her), I also wonder if Carter's efforts were misguided. Maybe those animal perserves would have been a better place, even if she did live in a cage. It seemed clear that Lucy was not like the other chimps in her ability to adapt to the wild. Keeping her on the island for so long was probably a mistake. I understand, however, how a young woman in her twenties, living alone on an island of chimps, might have not made the best decision under those circumstances. The damage had already been done by the couple who abandoned her. This is a very, very sad story. I hope the publication of this story inspires listeners to do something to stop current day abuses of primates -- such as using chimps in scientific research (which is really torture if viewed from the animal's perspective), circuses or movies/t.v.

Feb. 27 2010 05:10 PM

Dear RadioLab,
I was fixated, unable to leave and get back to my Saturday grad class until I got the whole story. Bittersweet emotions are the best. Thank you,


Feb. 27 2010 02:05 PM

My heart goes out to Lucy and the millions of other beings who over history have been used and abused by our so called more intelligent species. My only hope is that Lucy(however she was killed) went quickly...because her life was one that was filled with so much grief and pain...I pray that she didn't suffer in the end. How dare that couple walk away from her...did they grieve or worry at all? Thanks to Janis for doing the best she could..the hug is so painful to look at...the resignation at being abandoned is unbelievable. Blessings to the Spirit of Lucy and to Janis. Begrudged compassion to the couple who turned her out into the wild without a second thought.

Feb. 26 2010 07:24 PM

One of the most upsetting things I have heard.

Feb. 26 2010 12:56 AM
Jessica Eiden Smedley from Charlotte, NC

Just heartbreaking.

Feb. 25 2010 11:26 AM
Jess Dahlberg from Kennett Square, PA

Although the study did confirm how intelligent and adaptable non-human primates are, the study design was, literally, FATALLY flawed. Why cut the study short? Why spend years training Lucy to co-exist with humans and then cut her loose when she needed protection most? Are we really surprised with the outcome? I wish I could understand the logic or see the innocence behind the final stages of the study but I cannot get past the devastation I feel thinking how isolated and abandoned such a pure creature (see final picture) felt before her death. I pray that regulatory organizations are more selective with who they give a neonatal non-human primate to these days. Shame.

Feb. 24 2010 11:34 PM
Andrea Kocerha from Glenside, PA

I can't believe that the Timberline's could spend nearly a decade raising this Chimp only to abandon her. With all the money they earned by exploiting Lucy with their experiment, and all the time and money they spent searching the globe for some place to "dump" her, they could have instead created some sort of refuge for Lucy to live safely. If they did indeed feel like "parents" to Lucy, how could they just turn their back on Lucy's well-being and cut off all contact with her? Clearly Lucy had much more emotional intelligence than the Timberlines.

Feb. 24 2010 10:15 PM
kim reist from austin, tx

That photo at the end, absolutely wrenching. Stop making me cry like a baby!

Feb. 23 2010 07:30 PM
Art M. from Minnesota

According to Wikipedia, Lucy was owned by the Institute for Primate Studies at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma. I'm assuming they funded this research. Before Lucy was 'acquired', there had to be a plan for what to do with Lucy after she matured. What was that plan? Was it as abysmal as this report conveys? 'Let her go?' Did the University of Oklahoma approve this 'experiment' without a sane (I'm looking for a better word than 'humane' - now that's irony) plan in place? The flaws with the experiment are self-evident. Knowing there was to be a break with the 'parents' at the end, a father-daughter bond could never have formed, nor did it. What was in these people's minds?

Feb. 23 2010 02:31 PM
sheri from Cleveland, Ohio

Oh, I cannot stop the tears! I was listening at work and it was a long day for me. I had to come home and see the "hug" on my computer. Oh so sad. Whether it is animals that are domesticated or in the wild, they expect us, the highest intelligent species on earth, to care for them or at least respect their natural habitat that they live in. It saddens me that Lucy's life ended so horribly. I wish you would say beforehand that some of these stories WILL make you cry!

Feb. 22 2010 05:51 PM
C from CA

What a heartbreaking story. I can't stop crying. Lucy's life was filled with selfish and ill-intentioned humans who left her to die, helpless and confused. I can't agree that Janis Carter is any kind of a hero in this story. She knew that Lucy was dependent on humans, yet still believed that she could survive in the wild and be fully "rehabilitated". How could anyone expect that of such a creature?

Feb. 22 2010 05:31 PM
kelly from Houston

That was too sad to listnen to. I had to stop.

Feb. 22 2010 05:08 PM

The Smithsonian article on Janis really shows how much of an impact Lucy had on understanding Chimpanzees. Janis, a 24-year-old woman, was compassionate enough to want to make sure the chimps survived, even after being attacked. 35 years later, she's still there, making sure the chimps are understood.

Incredibly heartbreaking story that shows different ways we treat animals; one person did the right thing and has given her life to doing the right thing, long after Lucy had died.

This story hurt my heart. The photos made me all the more sad. But once I read the article about Janis, I realized just how much good had come from hers and Lucy's sacrifices. Perhaps an entire species will be better understood through her work.

Feb. 22 2010 12:18 AM
Tamara French from Detroit, Michigan

You did it again Radio Lab. Do you know how hard it is to hide tears while at the gym? Thanks for the story and peace to Lucy.

Feb. 22 2010 12:12 AM
Lynda from Denver

How unfair these people were to Lucy. Using her as an experiment without taking into consideration that she most likely does have feelings similar to ours. Then when she is to much to handle they leave her and walk away. How unfair and how cruel we humans can be. How very very sad.

Feb. 21 2010 11:29 PM
G. Beachy from Ohio

I disagree with those that demonize the Temerlins. We would not know what we know now without their having taken Lucy in. That doesn't mean anyone should try this again. However, we can start where they left off and appreciate all life in a new way. We should be humbled by what we don't know (which is nearly everything). I was probably not alone in reflecting on Flowers for Algernon when hearing this story.

Feb. 21 2010 09:41 PM
Sandy from Atlanta

I wish Janice would have brought Lucy off the island to live with her in some way. Although the other chimps were able to make a life on the island, Lucy was clearly different. Her goodbye hug to Janice was a reluctant acceptance of her new life. Even though she accepted it, I'm sure she felt abandoned by her best friend Janice and was confused by it. Seems she had the very humane trait of being able to forgive Janice even though she clearly always missed her. I don't blame Janice. She did the best she could. She and Lucy are the tragic heros of the story. The Timberlines created a sad situation that could never have a happy ending.

Feb. 21 2010 08:55 PM
Nicole from Las Cruces, NM

A story of cruelty, selfishness, and ignorance. I could not stop listening to this story even though it made me angry and left me feeling heartbroken. I hope that with the airing of this story animals will be treated with more respect and genuine beneficence in the future.

Feb. 21 2010 06:11 PM
C from Los Angeles

I'm sorry. I don't understand all the love to Janis. She should have advocated for something different for Lucy as she saw the distress and the failure of this 'rehab' approach. How is Janis a hero in this? She enabled the Temerlins to discard Lucy with minimal guilt. I want to hear how she went back to the Termerlins and advocated that they reconsider and explore another option. I see no reason for praise for her complicity. I think I hated this story and can't stop thinking about it.

Feb. 21 2010 05:57 PM
Sydney Hamilton from Erlanger KY

I wish I had never heard the story of Lucy. It was inhumane what the Temerlins did to her. After just having to put my sickly cat down, I cannot stop crying after hearing how mean those people were to Lucy. My cat was my "baby" yet he was no where near humanized as Lucy was, yet once they could no longer handle her, they tossed her aside like yesterday's garbage. What a horrible, horrible ending for a smart little animal who would have been better off had she had the chance to be the animal she was instead of "befriended" by humans who are ugly to say the least. I just bet that her real mother, who she was stolen unmercifully from, would have at the very least tried to protect her from those idiots who killed her. In the end, "science" and the Temerlins killed her. Thank you to Janis Carter for doing all she could to help poor Lucy.

Feb. 21 2010 05:38 PM
Victoria Zielinski from Woodland Hills, CA

Was captivated by this story -- I was streaming it on my iphone and came home to find the end of the tale.
Thank you, WNYC for this most fascinating radio story.

Feb. 21 2010 04:40 PM
Nancy from Acton, Massachusetts

What an incredible story. I had tears flowing down my cheeks as it ended. Janis Carter is a wonderful and compassionate human being -- how it must have grieved her to find Lucy's body that way. Thank you, NPR, for another fascinating, though emotionally wrenching, story.

Feb. 21 2010 04:28 PM
P. M. from California

What dreadful, self-absorbed, and (in my view) mentally disturbed people the Temerlins were! What kind of people could walk away from their helpless, humanized "daughter" (who no longer fitted into their version of playing house), knowing what they did? What kind of people could steal a newborn baby chimp from her drugged mother (Temerlin wrote that all the stress and trauma of abducting and transporting Lucy was equivalent to his wife having given birth -- no care for what Lucy or Lucy's mother went through)? Anyone who thinks these people had pure motives when they took Lucy, or when they trained and "studied" her, or that she was misused in the name of science rather than out of a "let's see where this game leads" kind of macabre curiosity, should read Temerlin's book and learn the truth. He was an evil and twisted man. His wife was no better.
Janis Carter, on the other hand, must be a remarkable woman. Her "Friends of Animal" refuge, and the work that she still does in Africa, are causes worth supporting.
The Temerlins deserved the disapprobation of the academic community (and worse) but, unfortunately, profited from their abuse and neglect of the guileless near-human Lucy. That is what sickens me the most: that they could wring what they wanted out of Lucy and then walk away. That they could twist the story into something that approximated a happy ending, when they knew that the truth was gut-wrenchingly sad. It is so representative of what humans do to animals every day -- use them, ruin them, profit from them, abandon them. In the end, Lucy was more human than anyone in this story... except for her friend and protector, Janis Carter.

Feb. 21 2010 02:16 PM
Susan from Audubon, PA

I can barely type through the tears. Thank you for the excellent story.

Feb. 21 2010 01:05 PM
Leslie Brown

What a tragic tale. I have been disturbed since hearing about Lucy's life and ultimate death due to the moronic, irresponsible behavior of 'scientisits' who think that domesitcating and humanizing an intelligent being and then forcing that beautiful creature to become what she so clearly never was (a wild animal) was somehow in her best interest. We protect/save children who have been abandoned by their parents, however, who advocated for Lucy? Why are these abusive people not behind bars ~ at least for animal cruelty? Shame on them. . .God Bless Lucy

Feb. 21 2010 12:21 PM
Meredith from Austin

I cannot stop bawling after listening to this story. So sad. I can't say I liked the story because it was so sad. Lucy's trust and innocence and helplessness in our hands....

Feb. 21 2010 12:02 PM
Jenny from Colorado

I had to pull off the road because of the tears in my eyes as I listened to this story. And now again as I finally see the picture of Janis and Lucy described in the story.
Thank you for telling this story.

Feb. 21 2010 10:33 AM
Allison from Pueblo, CO

What a story, so emotional and thought provoking. Thank you NPR for bringing this story to me. I sat in my car in the Walmart parking lot for quite a while just to hear the ending. What a woman, Janis Carter. God bless you.

Feb. 20 2010 10:55 PM

The arrogance of the couple who felt entitled to take a being away from her mother as an experiment. Treating her as human reminds me of the unfortunate stories of hermaphrodite's who have genitals removed to fit in and end up lost their entire lives. That is what happened to this ape due to the selfishness of humans. The story is a reminder of how important it is for us to honor the ways of other creatures. (I will not refer to the chimpanzee by the silly human name she was given.)

Feb. 20 2010 07:35 PM
R from Los Angeles

This story caused a great deal of grief. It feels that all were so irresponsible with Lucy, and I'm so angry with all who tended to her care. It breaks my heart. Maybe it resonated for me in this particular way having grown up biracial during a time less tolerant than today. The abandonment between the two worlds, in this case, human and chimpanzee, may have triggered my own memories of marginalization and isolation. What I can only imagine as Lucy's confusion and grief over the failed attempts at rehabilitation and ultimate abandonment simply make me ache.

Feb. 20 2010 05:06 PM
Donna Kirdahy from Stony Brook, NY

An absolutely riveting story. I knew it would end badly but could not bring myself to turn it off. Man's lack of compassion towards other creatures of the Earth is evidence of how far we still have to evolve.

Feb. 20 2010 05:04 PM
Virginia Smith from Louisville, KY

This story broke my heart. Had I known the outcome from the outset, I would've turned the dial to avoid the pain, but am grateful I didn't. I can only imagine the joy that Lucy brought to the lives she touched. We still have so much to learn from our animal cousins. Many thanks to Janis and Charles for sharing their story and photos.

Feb. 20 2010 04:57 PM
Jessica from Skokie, IL

Wonderful story. I heard it in my car on the way home and as soon as I walked in the door, I came to see the photos. They brought tears to my eyes just as Janis' story did. Thank you!

Feb. 20 2010 02:47 PM
David Manguno from Oklahoma City

Absolutely compelling radio. The photos perfectly support the audio.

Feb. 20 2010 02:17 PM
Melanie J. Micale from mocksville NC

A most touching and thought provoking story. I stopped the car and remained there until it was finsihed.

Feb. 20 2010 01:54 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.