Nim's life story is told in Project Nim, a new documentary by Man on Wire director James Marsh, described by the New York Times as a "probing, unsettling study of … Perhaps we can never know how a chimpanzee sees the world, or how a dog sees the world. The film was first publicly shown during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and then released for public exhibition on 8 July 2011. 'James said, “Stephanie, stay away from her,” ’ LaFarge says. 'I made a vow to her as I took the baby to try to be as close to a good mother as she would have been,’ she says, 'knowing that I was not going to be anywhere near as good a mother as a chimpanzee.’. Within a couple of months he could scoot around the house, and in a few more months he could climb the walls. 'Young chimpanzees are terrified and they attach to your body,’ she says. "Unfortunately, or fortunately, the fact of the matter was he respected people who actually bit him and hit him. But his time as a 'human’ chimp was running out. He started the project by snatching the baby from its mother at two weeks of age, and then plopping it right into a large, free-spirited family with no scientific or primate-training background. He easily went from the urge to bite to making that sign instead. Documentary about Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee who became the focus of a landmark experiment in the 1970s, which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language. Hermann prepared an argument on the basis that because of the peculiar circumstances of Nim’s upbringing he could not be categorised with the other research chimps, and proposed that Nim should be allowed to take the stand in court, replying to questioning by sign language. Combining eye-opening archive footage and interviews with a large number of those involved, Project Nim is a fascinating study of a particular moment in history when the study of human psychology and man’s relationship to animals was undergoing a radical shift; a fascinating study, too, of the social and sexual mores and the gender politics of the time. "Up until now I think that Terrace had quite a privileged rendering of the story. ", Available for everyone, funded by readers. To Ingersoll, Terrace’s conclusions were largely irrelevant. But he never observed what we were doing. Such is the case with award-winning documentarian James Marsh and his presentation of Project Nim. Project Nim tells a moving story of the remainder of Nim's life – he died in a Texas wildlife refuge in 2000 – that I will not retell here. It had to do with his personality. That's the inherent problem of Project Nim; it's a scientific experiment that involves messy and volatile emotions – human emotions, and chimpanzee emotions, too.". Documentary about Nim Chimpsky, the 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. Marsh goes on to describe his impression of Nim. To LaFarge, the prospect of adopting a chimpanzee was appealing both as an academic experiment and as a way of cementing the family. "Nim's environment really should have been a jungle in Africa. He does adapt, but he is just too strong and unpredictable to be part of human society. "Terrace had a very simple question – can a chimpanzee create a sentence? Terrace’s own experiment was forged in a spirit of heated debate about language and behaviour that was raging through academia in the 1960s and 70s. America’s famous signing chimp was now confined to a cage measuring 5x5x6ft. I needed to have trainers that were motivated to do what I wanted done.’. I was very concerned about that. Such an idea was ahead of its time. The doc was a smash when it played at Sundance with this entirely different incredible but true story. But in 1982 the IPS ran out of funds. And I was completely unharmed.’. We get no detail on those "experiments".As Nim gets older, guess what ... he gets bigger and stronger. In her book Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human, which inspired the film, Elizabeth Hess suggests that in removing Nim from the laboratory and trying to raise him as a human, the experiment had for the first time opened many minds to the possibility that animals, too, have rights, including the right to legal protection from research. Are they endlessly inventive with language in the way we are? [Terrace’s] goals were so lofty, that he honestly believed that we were going to look into the mind of a chimpanzee and know what he’s thinking! 'It just happened that this animal was hostile.’, Wer, she says, was not quite as bohemian as he had thought himself to be. But it's a mistake to think they are more like us than they are.". I was.’). BBC Films: Project Nim - James Marsh interview. She then got, like Stephanie, embroiled emotionally with Professor Terrace. Highly intelligent, he was chosen to be the subject of a language experiment at Columbia University, called Project Nim, that aimed to discover whether or not chimpanzees could use grammar to create sentences if they were taught sign language and nurtured in a similar environment to human children. Even the choice of his chimp’s name, Nim Chimpsky, was designed to cock a snook at Chomsky. I couldn't help but feel sympathy for the chimp and anger at the people ... especially Professor Terrace. The average lifespan of a chimp in the wild is about 45 years. The other thing left unexplained was how Nim's mother had other babies taken from her in a similar manner. "But it's a mistake to think they're like us in our ways," Marsh warns. I had a great relationship with Nim that I was very proud of. ", BEST FRIEND: Bob Ingersoll, research student at Institute for Primate Studies, Oklahoma. One was a Sesame Street book (Nim had appeared on the programme), with an illustrated section on ASL. Ingersoll drove an Alfa Romeo, and he says that Nim recognised the sound of the engine before Ingersoll had even got out of the car. The fact is nobody would support taking care of a chimp who didn’t perform as expected on a project.’.