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​Woman Who Raised Chimp As Human On Coffee And Gin Says She Regrets It

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​Woman Who Raised Chimp As Human On Coffee And Gin Says She Regrets It

A woman who adopted a chimp has admitted she regrets raising the animal as a human, saying in a new documentary that she'd never 'take a chimp' from its mother ever again.

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Lucy the chimp was born at a roadside zoo in Florida, before being adopted by psychologists Maurice Temerlin and his wife Jane.

The couple gave Lucy 'every human comfort' possible, but ended up taking her to Gambia when she reached puberty to encourage her to mix with other chimpanzees.

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Credit: Channel 4/HBO
Credit: Channel 4/HBO

In new Channel 4 doc Lucy the Human Chimp, which airs tonight at 9pm, Jane recounts how there was no chimpanzee more 'human' than Lucy - and that she thought of the three of them as a 'family'.

They brought her up as their own child, teaching her to dress herself, drink coffee, eat with silverware and even fix herself a gin and tonic.

When they took Lucy to Gambia, one of their students, Janis Carter, lived in the remote rainforest with Lucy to help her forage and integrate with other animals.

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After 18 months, they relocated to a jungle island in the River Gambia National Park, before Janis was forced to withdraw from Lucy so that she would mix with the chimps - leaving in 1985 after more than six years on the island.

"I think Lucy recognised that there were chimps and that chimps were a different category, but I don't think she put herself in that other category, she saw herself as a human," Janis says in the film.

Lucy's remains were found the following year.

Jane said she was always waiting for the heartbreaking call to say that her 'daughter' had died.

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Jane Temerlin. Credit: Channel 4/HBO
Jane Temerlin. Credit: Channel 4/HBO

In the documentary, Temerlin says: "I was always just waiting.

"When were we going to get the call? And it was a very, very difficult thing to hear. It was a terrible loss for all of us.

"I was so grateful to Janis for giving Lucy this chance after her time with us. She had some really good years and she had freedom and she wasn't in a cage. She was protected; she was loved; she had Janis; but I wouldn't take a chimp from chimpanzee mother again."

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In archive recordings, Maurice also reveals what Lucy's life had been like, saying his wife went to collect her when she was just two days old.

Credit: Channel 4/HBO
Credit: Channel 4/HBO

"The mother was fed with some coca cola spiked with a strong tranquiliser and when she fell into a deep sleep, the baby was taken from her arms, and handed to Jane, who names her Lucy," he explains.

"They flew home on a commercial airline and covered her by a blanket, Lucy slept the whole way on Jane's shoulder and once Lucy got home, our scientific adventure began."

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Credit: Channel 4/HBO
Credit: Channel 4/HBO

Maurice, who died in 1988, continues: "Raising Lucy, we've given her every human comfort possible.

"After eight hours sleep on a king-size mattress, she'll have breakfast of coffee, oat meal with raisins and a glass of orange tang. In the evenings, she'll sit around studying herself with her favourite mirror, and occasionally fix herself a gin and tonic, squeezing the lime with her teeth."

Lucy the Human Chimp airs on Channel 4 on 19 April at 9pm. It also airs in the US on HBO Max on 29 April.

Featured Image Credit: Channel 4/HBO

Topics: Entertainment, TV and Film, Documentary, Animals

Jess Hardiman
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