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The monkey-human hybrid who entertained people

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Derks24 / Pixabay

There was a chimpanzee who became world-famous, and yet very few people know exactly why and what made him so special.

His life

Oliver was captured in the Congo by Frank and Jane Berger in 1970. His appearance reminded them of humans including his walk and behaviour. 

Oliver was capable of uncanny things. Unlike chimpanzees, he had 47 chromosomes. And that wasn’t the only oddity. He had a human face and was most often in his upright position. He was the first and only chimpanzee man: half human and half chimpanzee. Was he the result of some genetic experiment or was he the result of nature? What is more, are there other monkey-human hybrids like him? Oliver walked on two legs much more than on four, setting him apart from his peers.

In 1977, the monkey was given to Ralph Helfer and it was shown in a small theme park, Buena Park in California. He “worked” as a circus monkey, where he was advertised as a “humanzee”, a human-chimpanzee hybrid, precisely because of his unusual gait. The Los Angeles Times reported that the extraordinary chimpanzee could be a member of a hitherto unknown subspecies or the missing link between man and ape. The park closed in 1982 and the monkey was taken to Wild Animal Training Center in California. His new owner was Ken Decroo but he sold him in 1985 to Bill Rivers. Rivers claimed that the monkey had difficulty socializing with other monkeys.

In 1989, Oliver was bought by the Buckshire Corporation, a laboratory in Pennsylvania. Experiments and tests were done on him and he was treated badly: his home was a small cage and it did harm to his health. In 1996, under the pressure of animal rights activists, Sharon Hursh, the director of the laboratory let him and other monkeys go.

In 1988, Oliver was transferred to another company named Primarily Primates Texas where he got a more spacious cage. During his stay there, he had different caretakers. However, some were worried about his well-being. 

Oliver was given another, female chimpanzee, called Raisin as a companion. Sadly, the laboratory tests and being a captive caused arthritis and partial blindness and it made it difficult for Oliver to socialize.

However, he was allowed to go out and have a spacious place when he got old until he died in his sleep in 2012. 

What was his origin?

He later exploded into the public and scientists began to study him, searching for the cause of these strange physical and personality traits.

A study reportedly showed that he had 47 chromosomes. This is more than interesting because while humans have 46, a chimpanzee has 48, and a possible hybrid would have exactly 47 chromosomes.

Researchers at the University of Chicago began studying Oliver’s chromosomes in 1996 and the results were later published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. No other abnormalities were found, however. 

Genetic testing

First of all, it is worth knowing that chimpanzees have 48 chromosomes while humans have 46. Unlike the results of genetic testing earlier, he did not have 47 chromosomes but 48. Furthermore, his human-looking appearance was in the range of variability presented by common chimpanzees. His mitochondrial DNA matched with species living in Congo.

The photo is illustration!