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Encyclopedia > Oliver (chimpanzee)
Oliver, the "Humanzee".

Oliver was a performing Common Chimpanzee who was once promoted as a missing link, or a "Humanzee" (a human-chimp hybrid). Image File history File links Oliver, the Humanzee. File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Oliver, the Humanzee. File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Binomial name (Blumenbach, 1775) distribution of Common Chimpanzee. ... Look up missing link in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Humanzee (also known as the Chuman, or Manpanzee) is a hypothetical chimpanzee/human hybrid. ...

However, despite his somewhat unusual appearance and behavior, Oliver is, genetically speaking, a normal chimpanzee. Anthropologist David J. Daegling (in Carroll 2005) writes:

"'Oliver' is a habitually bipedal ape that has captured the imagination of both laypeople and scientists. He has been touted as a relict australopithecine, a bigfoot, or even the result of a clandestine human-chimp hybridization experiment. After years of lively debate, Oliver's DNA was sampled to settle the issue and perhaps provide us with a breathing version of the missing link. The results are in ... and, alas, Oliver is just a standard-issue chimpanzee with a penchant for walking."[cite this quote] This term australopithecine refers to two very closely related hominin genera: Australopithecus Paranthropus When used alone, the term refers to both genera together. ... It has been suggested that Evidence regarding Bigfoot be merged into this article or section. ... The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is a nucleic acid molecule that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. ...

Oliver is not a hybrid between a human and a chimpanzee as it is much speculated— he is a normal chimp that acts more human than other chimpanzees.


Early life

Oliver was acquired as a young animal (around 2 years old: Shuker 1999) in the early 1970s by trainers Frank and Janet Berger. Supposedly, the chimpanzee had been caught in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire). Some physical and behavioral evidence led the Bergers to believe Oliver was a creature other than a chimpanzee, perhaps a human-chimp hybrid: Oliver possesses a flatter face than his fellow chimpanzees (as his teeth were removed); Oliver was habitually bipedal (before being struck with arthritis), never walking on his knuckles like his chimpanzee peers; and Oliver may have preferred human females over chimpanzee females (Shuker 1999). During a recent Discovery Channel special, Janet Berger herself claimed that Oliver was becoming attracted to her when he reached the age of 16. He mounted her and tried to mate with her. After he tried it several times it became apparent that Oliver was a threat to Janet, and had to be sold. Still, Oliver was not the clownish performer his chimp peers were, and other chimps avoided him. Some people claim he did not possess a typical odor common to chimpanzees (Shuker 1999). A biped is an animal that travels across surfaces supported by two legs. ... Arthritis (from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation; plural: arthritides) is a group of conditions where there is damage caused to the joints of the body. ...

Vincent Pace, a concert pianist and friend of the Bergers, tried to purchase Oliver but was outbid.

His Japanese tour

Oliver's next owner was New York appellate lawyer Michael Miller, who purchased Oliver from the Bergers in or before 1976 (Shuker 1999) and promoted Oliver as a "missing link". Oliver appeared on Japanese TV with fraudulent promotions picturing him as a miniature and hairy human being. Though he was sent to Japan in a normal chimpanzee cage as cargo, Oliver was depicted as flying in the passenger cabin. Oliver's trip coincided with a concert promotion of the rock 'n roll group The Monkees and he was presented on Japanese television shows with Micky Dolenz providing inaccurate scientific observations. Year 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Rock and roll (also spelled rock n roll, especially in its first decade), also called rock, is a form of popular music, usually featuring vocals (often with vocal harmony), electric guitars and a strong back beat; other instruments, such as the saxophone, are common in some styles. ... The Monkees were a pop-rock quartet created and based in Los Angeles in 1965 for an NBC American television series of the same name. ... George Michael Dolenz, Jr. ...

Miller claimed he was promised genuine scientific examination of Oliver including genetic testing by the Japanese promoters. Some Japanese results held that Oliver had 47 chromosomes (see Ely et al. 1998 for the base of this claim). Some anthropologists observing Oliver's head, nose, ears, and preference for bipedal walking asserted the possibility that the chimp was a hybrid[citation needed]. This article is about the biological chromosome. ... Anthropology (from Greek: ἀνθρωπος, anthropos, human being; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is the study of humanity. ...

Oliver is sold

Oliver, displaying his tendency for bipedal locomotion.

Miller in 1977 sold him to Ralph Helfer, partner in a small Buena Park, California, theme park called Enchanted Village which was built on the site of the defunct Japanese Deer Park And Village amusement attraction. When Enchanted Village closed down later that year, Helfer continued exhibiting Oliver in a new venture, Gentle Jungle, which changed locations a few times before finally closing in 1982. The Los Angeles Times did an extensive article about Oliver as a possible missing link or new sub-species of chimp. Oliver was transferred to the Wild Animal Training Center at Riverside, California, owned by Ken Decroo, but he was allegedly sold by Decroo in 1985. The last trainer to own Oliver was Bill Rivers. Rivers reported problems with Oliver not getting along with other chimps. Image File history File links Oliver the Humanzee, walking. ... Image File history File links Oliver the Humanzee, walking. ... A biped is an animal that travels across surfaces supported by two legs. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... Location of Buena Park within Orange County, California. ... Theme Park is a simulation computer game designed by Bullfrog Productions, released in 1994, in which the player designs and operates an amusement park. ... Year 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday (link displays the 1982 Gregorian calendar). ... This just IN !!!:paris hiltons new dog. ... Nickname: Location in the state of California Coordinates: , Country United States State California County Riverside Government  - Mayor Ron Loveridge Area  - City  78. ... Year 1985 (MCMLXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays 1985 Gregorian calendar). ...

The Buckshire Corporation, a Pennsylvanian laboratory leasing out animals for scientific and cosmetic testing, purchased Oliver in 1989. His entrance examination revealed some previous rough handling. He was never used in experiments, but for the next nine years, his home was a 7 x 5 foot (2.1 x 1.5 meter) cage, whose restricted size resulted in muscle atrophy to the point that Oliver's limbs trembled. In 1996, Sharon Hursh, president of the Buckshire Corporation, inquired whether Primarily Primates could start a retirement effort for Buckshire's colony of 12 chimpanzees. Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar). ... Atrophy is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... Primarily Primates, Incorporated is a non-profit organization in Bexar County, Texas that operates an animal sanctuary which houses, protects, and rehabilitates a number of different types of non-native animals. ...

Older, blind, and arthritic, in 1998 Oliver ended up at a spacious, open-air cage at Primarily Primates[1]. The sanctuary's former director, Wally Swett, was determined to solve the mystery of his celebrity guest's taxonomic identity once and for all. Primarily Primates, Incorporated is a non-profit organization in Bexar County, Texas that operates an animal sanctuary which houses, protects, and rehabilitates a number of different types of non-native animals. ...

Scientific study results

Swett asked University of Chicago geneticist Dr. David Ledbetter to examine Oliver's chromosomes. These studies were performed in 1996 (Anonymous 1996)[citation needed] and revealed that Oliver had forty-eight, not forty-seven, chromosomes, thus disproving the earlier claim and confirming that he had a normal chromosome count for a chimpanzee, although recent studies by the Discovery Channel's Big Science had stated that he in fact has 47 chromosomes[citation needed]. Oliver's cranial morphology, ear shape, freckles and baldness fall within the range of variability exhibited by the Common Chimpanzee (Hill 1969). Dr. John Ely from Texas's Trinity University and cytogeneticist Dr. Charleen Moore from The University of Texas's Health Science Center with their co-workers conducted more extensive studies with Oliver, results of which were published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Ely et al. 1998): The University of Chicago is a private university located principally in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... Trinity University may refer to: Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas Trinity University of Washington, D.C. (formerly Trinity College) There are also several other educational institutions called Trinity College. ... University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin (full official name), often UT or Texas for short, is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System, the largest public university system in Texas, established in 1883. ...

Standard chromosomal studies fully supported Ledbetter's findings that Oliver had the diploid chromosome count expected for chimpanzees. His chromosomes possessed banding patterns typical for the Common Chimpanzee yet different from those of humans and Bonobos, thereby excluding any possibility of Oliver being a hybrid. Oliver's mtDNA D-loop sequence corresponded most with that of the Central Chimpanzee subspecies Pan troglodytes troglodytes; the closest correspondence of all (c.95% base pairs in common) was with 2 specimens from Gabon and Central Africa; samples of the more northernly Nigerian Chimpanzee P. t. vellerosus were not available. The radical differences in his behavior remain notable for their suggestion of his being to some extent culturally and physically more humanlike than most known chimpanzees. Oliver's bipedalism and behavior were most probably due to domestication and animal training, and his head shape was mainly a consequence of his teeth being removed at an early age to prevent biting (Jolly 1976). Karyogram of human male using Giemsa staining. ... For other uses, see Bonobo (disambiguation). ... Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is DNA which is not located in the nucleus of the cell but in the mitochondria. ... This article is about the zoological term. ... Base pairs, of a DNA molecule. ...

On the other hand, the mtDNA D-loop does not carry information regarding the bipedalism trait; Oliver's walking style may yet be inborn and inherited [original research?]. However, the biogeography of the variation in chimpanzee populations makes this rather unlikely; more recent findings on the geography of behavioral diversity in chimpanzees[citation needed] raise the novel possibility that Oliver might have belonged to one or a few more bipedal "tribes" of Common Chimpanzees (which would be scientifically considered morphs and not subspecies). Biogeography is the science which deals with patterns of species distribution and the processes that result in such patterns. ... A Morph, meaning form (from the Latin morpha), is a zoological term that descibes local populations or subpopulations of a single species of animal that may or may not be phenotypically distinct from the larger population as a whole. ...

It is also possible that he manifests a mutation that we have in common with the ancestor of both contemporary chimps and humans. [original research?]

Oliver Today

Oliver was, for a time, in the temporary care of wildlife rehabilitationist Lee Theisen-Watt who had been appointed to oversee Primarily Primates while the State of Texas determined who would ultimately be in charge of Primarily Primates. Though his health may have been compromised by being kept for long periods of time under unsatisfactory conditions prior to receivorship, he has barely exceeded half the usual lifespan of captive Common Chimpanzees which survive to adulthood.

On April 27, 2007, The State of Texas entered into a settlement agreement which removed Lee Theisen-Watt as receiver, replaced her with a board of directors that will be headed by Eric Turton and Priscilla Feral, and dismissed all charges against Primarily Primates. Swett will have to leave the property and is prohibited from serving either on the Board or as an employee. [2]

Oliver remains in the care of Primarily Primates which is now undergoing a major rehabilition of its premises. Members of the re-formed board of Directors expressed concern for Oliver in recent court proceedings and in news articles about the ongoing dispute over management of the sanctuary. The Star-Telegram reports that Friends of Animals is now merging with Primarily Primates in order to restructure its management and address past concerns about the future of the sanctuary. [3]

See also

The Humanzee (also known as the Chuman, or Manpanzee) is a hypothetical chimpanzee/human hybrid. ...


  1. ^ The Texas Monkey Project Oliver
  2. ^ Settlement looming for Primarily Primates by Cindy Tumiel San Antonio Express-News 04/25/2007 10:30 PM CDT
  3. ^ Lawsuit filed in Oregon latest battle over Texas animal sanctuary By WILLIAM McCALL, Associated Press Writer Tue, Jun. 26, 2007. Ac cssed June 28 2006
  • Anonymous (1996): "Mutant" Chimp Gets Gene Check. Science 274(5288): 727. DOI:10.1126/science.274.5288.727e (HTML fulltext)
  • Carroll, Robert Todd (2005): The Skeptic's Dictionary: Bigfoot [a.k.a. Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, Mapinguari (the Amazon), Sasquatch, Yowie (Australia) and Yeti (Asia)]. Version of 10/07/06. Retrieved 2006-DEC-14.
  • Ely, John J.; Leland, M.; Martino, M.; Swett, W. & Moore, C. M. (1998) Technical report: chromosomal and mtDNA analysis of Oliver. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 105(3): 395-403. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199803)105:3<395::AID-AJPA8>3.0.CO;2-Q HTML abstract
  • Herrick, Thaddeus (1997): Chimp seems unique, but not a missing link. Houston Chronicle 1/10/1997. Retrieved 2006-DEC-14.
  • Hill, W. C. Osman (1969): The nomenclature, taxonomy and distribution of chimpanzees. In: Bourne, G. H. (ed.): The Chimpanzee Vol. 1: 22–49. Karger, Basel/New York.
  • Jolly, Clifford C. (1976): Report on the primate known as Oliver. Unpublished manuscript, 11 January 1976.

Science is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). ... A digital object identifier (or DOI) is a standard for persistently identifying a piece of intellectual property on a digital network and associating it with related data, the metadata, in a structured extensible way. ... The Skeptics Dictionary is a web site with a collection of cross-referenced skeptical essays by Robert Todd Carroll, PhD. It primarily exposes claims that its editors consider pseudoscientific. ... A digital object identifier (or DOI) is a standard for persistently identifying a piece of intellectual property on a digital network and associating it with related data, the metadata, in a structured extensible way. ... The Houston Chronicle is a daily newspaper in Houston, Texas, United States. ... The Atlantic Monthly (also known as The Atlantic) is an American literary/cultural magazine that was founded in November 1857. ... Dr. Karl P. N. Shuker (born 1959) is a British zoologist, specialising in cryptozoology. ... Fortean Times is a British monthly magazine devoted to the anomalous phenomena popularised by Charles Fort. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Oliver - Is He An Ape? (693 words)
A scientific mystery for years, Oliver surfaced in the early 1970s when he was acquired by a man and woman whose dog, chimp, pony and pig acts won them performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and a t venues such as New York City's Radio City Music Hall.
Oliver's blood sample, Ledbetter said, showed 48 chromosomes, proof he was not a human-chimp hybrid.
Swett, however, believes Oliver may be an ape hybrid, such as a cross between a chimpanzee and a gorilla or a chimpanzee and pygmy chimp.
  More results at FactBites »



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