Friday, August 8, 2008

Book review: Nim Chimpsky

TitleNim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human
Author:Elizabeth Hess
Tagschimpanzees, animal research, language acquisition

Well-done story of a chimpanzee raised with humans and taught sign language. Journalist author Elizabeth Hess covers the story honestly, warts and all. The ape is named Nim Chimpsky, not in honor of Noam Chomsky but to spite him, as he thought that only humans could learn language. Nim was one of the early attempts to teach a chimp sign language, and the sad thing is how often his life was uprooted despite his having the love of many of his caretakers, and how little attention was paid in these early years to what was necessary to meet the chimp's needs. The story also makes clear taht chimps are not humans, though sharing many human characteristics. Nim was strong and often bit, at least once causing severe damage. Yet many of those who dealt with him were captured by looking into his deep, emotion-filled eyes. The book raises a lot of ethical issues about how we treat animals.

Well done story.
PublicationBantam (2008), Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication date2008
ISBN0553803832 / 9780553803839

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