Project Nim

As you might suspect, the topic of this United Kingdom documentary at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival was Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee taken from his mother at two weeks and raised as a human child in a family home.

We see a combination of interviews and film clips, interspersed with news stories of the times. Nim spent decades in a variety of environments and it's easier to understand the humans he interacted with if you understand the culture they inhabited.

The individuals being interviewed were surprisingly candid, particularly about the sexual sideshow that had taken place. The project's founder, Herbert Terrace, seemed to have a casting couch that would put movie moguls to shame. His interview reveals him to be oblivious to any possible emotional impact his experiment might have on the chimp, even though the effects are obvious. I guess this cold-hearted guy never had a dog...

Nim's original adoptive "mother" admitted that her husband was the constant target of Nim's pinching, biting and vandalism; Nim clearly wanted him out of the way. As he approached sexual maturity, his strength was a major factor in the unhappy choices made for his future. I can't help but wonder if neutering him might have been more humane.

This film is highly involving: Periodically I cringed from the screen as I saw the way the animals were treated, either through lack of empathy or ignorance. It didn't matter, I cringed anyway.

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Here is a link to a trailer:
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