Re: Goodall's story

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Wed, 25 Oct 1995 14:56:54 -0600

On Thu, 12 Oct 1995, ray scupin wrote:

> Colleagues:
> I show a video from the Mind series called _Language and Mind_ to
> my introductory anthro course. The video introduces research on primate
> communication, studies on sign language, investigations of
> pidgin/creolization processes illuminated by Bickerton's research, and
> insights into Whorf's conceptions (misconceptions) of Hopi language. I
> find the film a good overview of recent studies in linguistic research
> and the students seem to learn something from it.
> In the film Jane Goodall tells a story about a chimpanzee named
> Lucy (not related to the Australopithecine, except that perhaps they
> shared a common ancestor) who was raised in a human family and was taught
> sign language. After a long period of time as a "child" of these
> parents, where she had her own refigerator etc., the parents decided to
> take her back to Africa to live among a group of Wild chimps. Goodall
> compares this to a pampered U.S.teenager who is all of a sudden placed among
> aborigines. In the wild Lucy went into a severe depression and remained
> despondent for two years or so. In the meantime some humans came to
> observe her in the wild, and Lucy went up to them, looked into their eyes
> and signed "Please, help out!"
> I have skimmed through Goodall's work to find evidence of this
> tale, and have not come up with anything. It seems like one of
> those anthropological apocryphal tales, but on the other hand, Goodall is
> such a careful scientist. Students always ask questions about this story
> and I am at a loss to find anything definitive that they can investigate to
> look into this situation. Does anyone out there in our virtual community
> remember anything about this narrative? I would appreciate any references
> to a source on this matter.
> Thanks in advance,
> Ray Scupin
> ***************************************************************************
> Raymond Scupin
> Sociology/Anthropology Dept.
> Lindenwood College
> 209 S. Kingshighway
> St. Charles, MO 63301
> 314-949-4730 (Office)
> 314-949-9244 (Home)
> 314-949-4730 (Fax)
> Not chaos-like, together crushed and bruised,
> But, as the world harmoniously confused:
> Where order in variety we see,
> And where, though all things differ, all agree
> Alexander Pope
> "Windsor-Forest."
> ******************************************************************************

This does indeed sound like an aprocryphal story. But you say that
Goodall relates it in the film? If it weren't coming straight from her,
I would say it might represent a bit of anthropological folklore, retold
so often that it has assumed the character of a legend.

In the late 1940s a couple of primate biologists at the Yerkes
Laboratories, Keith & Catherine Hayes, took an infant chimpanzee into their
home and raised her as much like a human child as they could. The
little chimp's name was Viki. Though they tried assiduously to teach her
to speak, it proved to be extremely difficult. Finally, after 18-24
months they had actually taught Viki three words: mama, papa, & cup! A
Viki got older she began to move in three dimensions through their house,
and destroyed many objects. I can't remember what the final outcome
was. I do know they kept her for at least 6 years, but it seems like
they were finally forced to return Viki to the Primate Laboratories where
she was kept with the other chimps.

See Hayes, Cathy. 1951. The Ape in our House. New York: Harper

Also a later article:
Hayes, Keith J. & Catheine Hayes. 1954. The Cultural Capacity of
Chimpanzee. Human Biology 26:288-303

Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131

Much charitable endeavor is motivated by an unconscious
desire to peer into lives that one is glad to be unable
to share. . . . . Edward Sapir