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Lucy and Kanzi

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - 11:00 PM

Just how close can we get to our closest primate relatives? That's the question at the heart of our show Lucy -- a question that we try to answer by getting to know a chimp named Lucy, and a bonobo named Kanzi.

If you've listened to the show, you'll be eager to see the photo Jad mentions of Janis Carter hugging Lucy -- it's in the slideshow below, along with some other powerful shots of Lucy. Plus, take a look at a video of Kanzi using the "symbol keyboard," or lexigram, that Soren describes in the episode.


Slideshow produced by Sharon Shattuck.

And if you want more, check out this video of Kanzi on the Great Ape Trust's YouTube Channel.


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Comments [54]

Kristin from Oakland, CA

I love radiolab, listen religiously (to NPR generally, but the human stories are the best -- ie the Moth & Story Core (or is that Corps? Kind of a strange word to use -- or maybe in fact not -- considering it's attached to the military as in Marine Corps. Yup, s'all about leaving dead bodies in yer wake).

This story kills me.

C'est tout.

Aug. 22 2015 05:12 PM
Lyra A. Yeats from Barbados

I absolutely loved this video. Monkeys are one of my favorite animals, and I love how intelligent they are. This video proves that animals do think and can partially develop as humans. I would love to do something like this in my future, but sadly I hate science and have no comprehension on how to even start training a monkey to think like a human and act like a human. In the world of science, there are probably many ways to train monkeys and I can not even think of one!

Feb. 03 2015 03:58 PM
Alexandria Sims from Oviedo

My friend told me about this npr because it seemed like something that would interest me. But i think its pretty cool that humans are so similar to chimps, were so similar that we can condition them to be so human like. Lucy grew up like a regular human, she communicated through sign language and eventually able to have a real conversation with humans. Lucy developed feelings like a regular human, and was raised like a regular human, but one problem is that this chimp was was spoiled to a human life, lucy did not know how to act in the wild, lucy could not defend herself so when they released lucy into the wild i think it was ethically wrong because she could not survive without the help of the humans. Also i think it was wrong that they had a chimp due stuff to pornography, we would not have a human do that why would we have a chimp do that.

Jan. 26 2015 09:41 PM
gatzby fitzgerald from United States

I see a huge flaw with this experiment, the chimpanzee, what is to do with itself? They manipulated and conditioned the chimpanzee to act like a human, it was attracted to humans, acted like a human, ate like a human, and dressed like human. They made this animal defenseless, it was not raised to be in the nature or wild, but they if released it into the wild, this creature would not be able to survive. I do admire what Janice did though, she cared about these animals, she looked out for Lucy, she put herself in a cage to make these animals survive better. But the bad part about what happens with these chimpanzees is that most people are not like Janice and most scientists aren't going to go the extra mile to make sure the chimpanzees are going to survive.

Nov. 03 2014 09:33 PM
E.K. from Austin, TX

Can anyone identify the soft, Brian Eno-ish background music used during this segment?

Aug. 13 2014 10:57 PM
Emery from los angeles

This pretty much is the first for me bother post my thought on anything. These people think they have figured something out for humanity by simply getting an innocent creature attached and dumping it when done. Naturally causing pain and death.
Well congrats, you discovered it was not humane.
Please suffer and stop pretending.

Aug. 13 2014 03:17 AM
Gary Ramsey from Chicago

The commentator presenting this story was exactly right, the photo of Lucy and Susan hugging IS a haunting image. This is a photo of two beings connecting beyond their species. One, born human and the other, capable of understanding and achieving behavior, emotion and insight thought only capable of humans. How these people thought Lucy would be better off with her own kind when she was capable of such emotion and intelligence is completely beyond me.

Aug. 12 2014 07:44 PM
Charlotte Burns from Palmer, MA

Everyday we eat a steak or chicken wings we are being unspeakably cruel to animals. Each animal is a soul, and when we pack animals into stockyards, feed them food that's unnatural to them, make them live in disgusting conditions and stuff them with antibiotics, then kill them in such horrific ways, we're behaving like barbarians. I feel terribly for Lucy, but I also feel terribly for every animal on this planet that's abused.

Aug. 12 2014 12:15 AM
Lisa from Santa Fe

I, like the other commenters, was moved by this disturbing account of an innocent animal. To be raised in a different environment and culture and then be thrown back in the jungle with no survival skills is tantamount to murder. It is comparable to sending a teenager that was brought illegally to the US as an infant back to a country where they neither speak the language or have never been and expecting them to survive in environments that are another form of a jungle. What kind of people are we that let the innocent become victimized?

Aug. 11 2014 07:12 PM
iliani from CA

Kudos for a beautifully produced, captivating story. Brilliantly woven interviews with VO. Thanks!

Aug. 11 2014 06:54 PM

Yes this ia a sad story. I am sure the failed to realize or did not want to realize that there would be an ending to this situation. But if you took all your sadness and angry and focus it on the problems we have in this great country then maybe we can solve some of them.

Aug. 11 2014 10:20 AM

My heart is broken. Human cruelty knows no bounds.

Aug. 11 2014 01:23 AM
Pat Zaharopoulos from San Diego

We humans are so arrogant in our treatment of animals. Why didn't Lucy's parents think ahead as to what they would do with her when she was too strong for them? What a sad ending she came to by trusting people too much.
It's hard to tell which is the "advanced" animal in this story.

Aug. 11 2014 12:56 AM
tmnpt from Nantucket

It would seem that we are the most curious apes to the point of cruelty.

Aug. 11 2014 12:13 AM
Dale from Forsyth,Ga.

Outstanding story! Profound sadness as I listened to the ending. As humans, I guess we are somehow surprised at what we are capable of when left to ourselves to ask questions. Really outstanding work by the team who put ths on the air to be heard!

Aug. 10 2014 08:52 PM
Helena from Philadelphia, PA

This story shocked and deeply depressed me. I hope the Temmerlins are reading every comment on this page as they deserve to suffer for abandoning Lucy into the wild after raising her as their own. They are absolutely evil and ignorant people that do not deserve the term or recognition as scientists. My heart is broken. RIP Lucy, you poor child.

Aug. 10 2014 06:39 PM
LSuen from Maryland

This story is heart-rending. Man is capable of such unspeakable cruelty to the animals with whom we share this beautiful planet that we are in the process of destroying. This kind of story makes me feel our time as a species may be up, and maybe that is not such a bad thing in the grand scheme of things.

Aug. 10 2014 06:21 PM
Denise from New Jersey

I wish I had never listened to this story. I am horrified that all of these people could simply abandon their responsibility to Lucy just because she became difficult to live with. It's shameful and heartbreaking.

Aug. 10 2014 04:45 PM
robin k from los osos

How and when will this stop? Beyond heartbreaking and I agree, criminal. It would have been fair for the Termerilins to give birth to a baby, and be drugged two days later only to have baby taken away forever. No different than what they did to Lucy and her mom. This made me so sad.

Aug. 10 2014 04:44 PM
Laurie Volk from White Post, VA

If you were fascinated or horrified by this story, I suggest you read "We are all Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Fowler. It is all vey haunting.

Aug. 10 2014 03:48 PM
Kim T from Annapolis, MD

I'm not sure I've ever before been so angry listening to Radiolab. The people that raised Lucy, you sure let them off easy. They should have been raked over the coals for taking this Chimp, raising it like a human, and then when they just decided they were done they drop her off in the wilds?!?! She had no skills at that point for being in the wild. Seriously wtf that absolutely made me so angry and then they just fly on back to the States. I hope they lost sleep for the rest of their lives over doing that.

Aug. 10 2014 03:30 PM
Eve from NH

Listening to Lucy's story was heartbreaking. As Janis Carter described her own extraordinary efforts to release Lucy into a life she'd never known, and Lucy's desperate desire to stay with Janis, I kept hoping Janis would respond less like a scientist. I hoped she might be able to reassess and respond based on what Lucy was feeling and experiencing. Instead of doggedly moving ahead with the plan, I hoped Janis would allow herself to consider that Lucy knew best. Lucy finally gave up trying to convince Janis, and stayed behind. Sadly resigned, not liberated.

Aug. 10 2014 09:43 AM
Vin from Fremont, CA

Very good story. I love listening to Radiolab.

Aug. 10 2014 03:52 AM

I listen to Lucy's story. So sad the way humans behave. It appears that humans that are not happy or mentally on the bottom of society then they pick on animals and so on and so on. Bullies, psychopaths.

I believe the stories and photo killed Lucy, as this lead the poachers right to her.

Perhaps we could learn from this.

I hope so.

Aug. 09 2014 07:59 PM
JAK from Oregon

In response to Faye from San Francisco’s comment (Aug. 9. 2014)
Sure this is a terrible story of animal suffering and torture, but it is also an example of human’s inability to love unconditionally. When times get tough humans give up and will abandon the very people they swear they love, even their own “children”. Take all of the homeless people. Where are the ones who once “loved” them? It seems humans can so easily fall in and out of love with their own flesh and blood.

Most homeless, destitute, hungry people who have become “out of control”, either by loosing their jobs, doing drugs, having been sexually abused or a myriad of other things that have happened to them - where are their “loved ones” when they get out of control? They chose to abandon the ones they once loved. The ones they loved became out of control so they abandoned them. They then become someone elses problem.

This story about Lucy is a story of how easily humans give up when things get tough.
My best friend Sara died, committed suicide because her family decided she was “out of control”. Sara had a great relationship with her family as long as she fit into the mold they made for her. She was a successful banking representative in her mid 20’s making a great salary. One day after work she went to the parking garage to get in her car to go home to her waiting fiancé. She never made it home. She was abducted from her car by a stranger and held captive for 2 years. When she finally got away from her captive she ran home to her “loving” family. They saw her but no longer recognized her. She had lost 30 pounds, had short hair instead of long and was acting different than the Sara they had raised. They rejected her. They did not believe her “outrageous story” about being abducted. They accused her of running away, being on drugs etc. She was unrecognizable and was not behaving the way the old Sara did. This sent Sara into a long journey she couldn’t understand. They refused to care for her in the loving way she was used to. The family who had loved and cared for her for her whole life abandoned her. Suddenly she been rejected and unaccepted. Five years later after so much time of yearning to be loved the way she had always known, trying to regain that love from others to no avail she took her own life by a noose she hung in a tree in the back yard of the place she had been staying at the time.

Sara’s and Lucy’s life showed me that humans will and do abandon their “loved ones” when they change and do not fit the mold that they created for them anymore. Sure it was done to a helpless manipulated animal, but if we can’t love our own children ourselves anymore, how can we trust any other human to do any better?

Aug. 09 2014 07:47 PM
Fred W. Ullrich, Jr. from Phoenix, Azrizona

In todays troubled world hearing this story by employing only the "radio" (using only our sense of hearing) to describe this heart breaking saga very powerful! There is a universal theme here that this program brought out . Namely human kinds tendencies to be flawed, selfish with a strong dose of bad judgement. The photo of Janis and Lucy hugging is one of the saddest images I have experienced. Their postures and embrace are both so sorrowful and hopeless it brings one to tears. Something to ponder for all of us.

Aug. 09 2014 07:31 PM
JWBanner from New York City

The story of Lucy illustrates the consequences of our arrogance in thinking that we are not animals ourselves, but something "higher". Qualities of trust, loyalty, language, and ability to love are all highly regarded as strictly "human" traits and abilities. More and more we are discovering the fallacy and falseness of these beliefs. Science has long been operating with these blinders and the bonobo story better demonstrated the proof that we are all creatures that must coexist with the same respect that we give fellow humans-as beings with existential rights.
I have been fortunate enough to hold the hand of a young chimpanzee and have its long fingers wrap around my entire hand, and looking with its eyes into my own, and sensing the presence of another creature with its own will and perhaps, consciousness.

Aug. 09 2014 06:50 PM
DD Kullman from Phoenix, AZ

Regardless of what you think about the relationship of Lucy and the Temerlins, the atrocity that was committed against Lucy - murder by poachers - is absolutely, unequivocally wrong. It makes me so angry! When will these horrible people be stopped and prosecuted?

Aug. 09 2014 06:50 PM
abrea from CALIFORNIA


Aug. 09 2014 06:03 PM
Faye from San Francisco

Lucy’s story is the most devastating and hunting story of animal suffering and torture that I have ever heard. Temerlins have committed huge atrocities and should be prosecuted for committing such crimes against animals. I have been an avid listener of RadioLab for many years and found Lucy’s story devastating. I was having lunch when the show aired and has to stop eating because the story was so distributing. Personally I have always been strongly opposed of animal experimentation for any purpose. These humans that call themselves scientists are so arrogant and inconsiderate when it comes the animals’ wellbeing. Animal experimentation always leads to the abuse and suffering of animals. Frankly I strongly vote for the prosecution of the Temerlins as they committed several crimes and should be thrown in jail for the rest of their lives that is if they are still alive. 1- Temerlins should have never separated Lucy from her mother at birth which is criminal. 2 – Temerlins were most irresponsible to raise Lucy completely isolated from a community of other Chimps and forcing her to live in a cage at home. This animal belongs in the jungle. 3 – Temerlins should be hanged for abandoning Lucy in the wild in a world which she felt lost, isolated and did not how to eat, what to eat and how to take care of herself because she never had a chance to learn those traits from other Chimps. Temerlins should have thought about what to do with Lucy after her programming as a human and when she grows too big to live with them at the very beginning which shows they never had Lucy’s interest at heart. All this talk about Lucy being like Temerlins’ daughter shows they knew nothing about being human. Would they throw their daughter out and abandon her when she becomes difficult? What happened to Temerlins’ consciousness assuming they ever had any? I guess they did not care for Lucy when the experience was over and they were done with her. I also do not have much respect for Susan, the caretaker, who finally abandoned Lucy to let her die. This is very sad. Shame on you Temerlins and Susan! Thanks for RadioLab for raising our consciousness and teaching us lessons in humanity!

Aug. 09 2014 05:47 PM
Daniel Adank from Saint Louis, MO

This program is a good example why I LOVE RADIOLAB!! You need bumber stickers that say I LOVE RADIOLAB!

Aug. 09 2014 05:45 PM
Ruby from Puyallup, WA

For Liz from NJ.. I hadn't heard this story. It SHOULD be run periodically to hopefully spread the education for all to consider the consequences of taking in a young creature from its wild family. Yes, primates are similar to us, & they will also feel anquish when separated first from their own, then from the human who can no longer handle them whether from their size, strength or their acting out when unhappy, upset or angry. Amazing the dedication of Janis Carter to console the loneliness when the Temerlins abandoned her. So terribly sad. We can all feel Lucy's ache.

Aug. 09 2014 05:28 PM
Ashley from New Orleans, LA

Although I do not genarally agree with testing or experimentation on animals, I do believe it is necessary to a certain extent - otherwise we would not have modern medicine at all. Nothing is all good or all bad. Lucy's story made me wonder something specific about the way she was taught, though, that may have changed her outcome. The concept of trust. There was speculation that she probably approached the suspected poachers because she was "trusting" of humans, and this is probably true. It seems she had pretty limited interaction with humans in terms of the number of people she was close with. And, she was obviously very attached to Ms. Carter and heartbroken that they had to part, perhaps thinking the sound of humans would mean her return. The thing I wonder about it this: As small children and even, or maybe especially, adolescents, we humans are trusting as well; until we are taught and learn by trial and error about which attitudes, behaviors and situations are appropriate and safe which are dangerous and risky. There is also such a thing as a "feeling" or "sense" about someone who intends harm, which animals of other species often have a much better and more accurate read on than we do. I just wonder - if Lucy had been taught to be wary of certain things, like the sight of guns or weapons, if she might have avoided that violent and fatal encounter. The memoir noted that Lucy started becoming aggressive toward visitors and possessive of the Temerlin's time and attention, much like we do when we feel slighted - seems like pretty normal development, especially for an animal that has a stronger sense of territory(although this could be argued against! We have been murdering one another and worse since the beginning of time for land, resources and power). I don't think it's a question of capability - it is obvious to me, even with animals of supposedly less advanced cognition, that other species are much more sentient and aware than we usually give them credit for. Perhaps if she had received the full on human education, including the part about "beware of strangers" she would have fared differently. There is no denying it's hard to defend oneself against an organized army bearing arms, even if we do know to beware, but I still wonder. I am sure Ms. Carter didn't expect poachers to invade their island sanctuary, but it is a beautiful AND often terrible world we live in.

Aug. 09 2014 04:47 PM
Redd from La Mesa, CA

This story is not quite as bad (but bad enough) as "Project Nim",the story of a chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment, which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. Scientists also drugged his mother to take him away. It is profoundly unsettling and I wish scientists would stop messing with nature and confusing these animals, destroying their natural being, their lives. People need to get rid of that romantic idea that a chimpanzee can be a family member. Even though Jan Carter tried to save Lucy's life, it was too little too late and did nothing to save her life in the end.

Aug. 09 2014 04:16 PM
jane ferrara from Boxford, MA

This is a tragic, yet touching story. I read that the Temerlins had a chimp companion for Lucy. Her name was Marianne. Does anyone know what fate Marianne met?

Aug. 09 2014 04:13 PM
Cathy from Nyc

Have felt so sad since listening to your segment. Why can't we just respect wildlife and observe them in their own habitats. Such a very sad ending for a wild animal that met its demise at the hands of humans!

Aug. 09 2014 04:11 PM
Jan from Boston

What was in the hole that Kanzi was so interested in? I got interrupted right at that moment...

Aug. 09 2014 04:00 PM
Jennifer Tineo from San Diego

This story broke my heart. We have no business messing around with other creatures. Leave them alone.

Aug. 09 2014 03:47 PM
Louise from Windsor Locks, CT

I'm wondering if any further study has been done on Lucy's mother's behavior after she woke childless and engorged.

Aug. 09 2014 03:02 PM
RJ from li

Not only were the Temmerlins heartless and totally irresponsible towards Lucy, they exhibited the same disregard for her mother. They drugged her in order to take her baby and use her for their own selfish and careless motives.

Aug. 09 2014 02:54 PM
Kristi from Columbus, Ohio

I work my Saturday around listening to this program but I have to say I regret learning about the tragedy befallen this amazing person who was abandoned by her family. To see the slideshow of her life & know that loving atmosphere would end so horribly for her is gut wrenching. Honestly, what the Temerlins did to Lucy is tantamount to tossing an aborted fetus in a dumpster. I sincerely hope the poachers dispatched her quickly & that she felt little if no pain. Such a disgusting & disgraceful demise, all in the name of science.

Aug. 09 2014 02:36 PM
Susan from Bellingham WA

The Smithsonian article on Janis Carter

Aug. 09 2014 01:58 PM
Kim from Ruxton, MD

Devastating biography of a beautiful and trusting soul.

Aug. 09 2014 01:55 PM
ann plattner from Baltimore, MD

Lucy's story is tragic. I'm left with few words to express my distress at what was done to this animal by the Temerlins, and amazed at the lengths that Jan Carter went to to try to save her life, or restore some semblance of normal.

Aug. 09 2014 01:51 PM
J.C Dominguez from North Dakota

I'm really tired of your intro and ending segments. Your shows should not rely upon less on than adept gimmickry, and instead, focus more on content. The long distance, tin can and string telephone inside a well send offs are old.

Aug. 09 2014 01:46 PM
Sondra Mayer from Great Neck, NY

How the Temerlins could leave their "daughter" and go on with their lives is uncomprensible to me. I commend Janis Carter for trying to make things right which, obviously, was impossible because Lucy had become too humanized to function as a wild chimp. Even Lucy's unfortunate death can easily be attributed to her wrongly placed trust in humans. We are slowly learning not to let these animals become too dependent on human care and/or love as we always put our well-being ahead of that of other species. I am touched and hurt by Lucy's life and death.

Aug. 09 2014 12:56 PM
JFreely from NYC

Enough already with these miserably sad and tragic chimp stories you producers are compelled to share (and re-run and re-run and re-run). Addressing the story: What right did these human scientists have to not only take Lucy away from her mother but then to raise her alone for human "knowledge?" And why didn't they understand that Lucy should have been in a sanctuary the family could have visited? Why were they so stupid to think Lucy would be able to live in the wild after they raised her as a "semi-human." Idiot "scientists" playing God.

Aug. 09 2014 12:49 PM
Liz from NJ

I think this is the x-teenth time you've run this story on Lucy. I know I've heard it at least four or five times and I'm not a regular listener any more.

Are you creating any new shows, like you used to do when you started this program?

Aug. 09 2014 12:24 PM
Evelyn Elliott from Edmond, OK

During the early seventies, I was a client of Dr. Temerlin's. Lucy was already jealous of visitors when I went to his home. She would sometimes be on a run on top of their house and she would bellow at me when I got out of the car to go inside. The love that Dr. Temerlin had for Lucy was quite evident. Note: At that time Oklahoma University had a Chimpanzee research program in progress, so there were other chimpanzees neaarby. Sadly, we learn many things at the expense of ourselves as well as others.

Aug. 09 2014 11:04 AM
Joanna from Bakersfield, CA

That was a tremendously hard story to hear, especially on Lucy's demise. Let's not repeat history and try to "humanize" any animal, wild or not. We need to honor them as they are.

Aug. 08 2014 04:19 PM
Joanna from Bergen County, NJ

My husband and I just heard the show while driving home. We took the (extra) long way because this story is so captivating and emotional. The photo with Janis and Lucy is very tender.

Aug. 07 2014 08:54 PM
Erin from VA Beach, VA

I've been listening to your segment during my lunch hour, I loved this story, although parts it definitely made my eyes well up with tears, I really enjoyed it.

Aug. 07 2014 01:15 PM
Erica Mooney from Portland,OR

I'm so saddened to think about the experimentation done to these sentient beings. This should be illegal.

Aug. 07 2014 12:57 PM
Dana from Long Beach, CA.

Very nice program and always interesting, keep up the good work. Thanks

Aug. 07 2014 12:47 AM

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