Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Home for Oliver"

"Home for Oliver" is an inspiring project by Andy Cockrum. Here in his own words:
I want to create a web series about the life of Oliver the chimpanzee and efforts to build him a new living area at a Texas sanctuary. My hope is that the series will document, promote and inspire the building of new habitats for Oliver and other captive chimpanzees and monkeys who are cast-offs from the pet trade, entertainment and biomedical research industries ... Today, Oliver lives at the sanctuary with another chimpanzee named Raisin. While the sanctuary is continuing to create larger grass-bottomed habitats for all of its chimpanzees, in a tough economy, they have not been able to raise funding to build a new, larger, grass habitat for Oliver, who also has special needs due to blindness and advanced age.
I am looking to raise a total of $4600.00, which should allow me to produce two to three webcasts per month for six months. Those webcasts will feature animal stories, expert interviews and the sanctuary's efforts toward building Oliver a new living area. Additionally, I may travel to other U.S. sanctuaries to conduct documentary research into the best type and size of habitat to build, and ways to utilize green building techniques.
Please note: 
My hope is to create this web series as the first step towards the goal of giving Oliver a new and more natural living area. The money I am seeking will go toward producing these webcasts and will not directly support the construction of Oliver’s new home, which could cost between $30,000 and $170,000. Those who would like to directly support the renovations at the sanctuary can do so through their web site,
About my involvement with the sanctuary:
I have volunteered my production and post-production services to the Primarily Primates animal sanctuary for several years now, having filmed, produced and edited over 50 videos for the sanctuary. These can be found in the “videos” section of the sanctuary’s web site at
Thank you!
Andy Cockrum

So, if you can, please help the chap out by backing his project. Click on the banner above for more information (it will redirect you to the project's website where you can donate and watch web series).

Oliver in his earlier days.

Born around 1958 in the Republic of Congo (then Zaire), Oliver was "acquired" at about 2 years old by trainer Frank and Janet Berger. Perhaps the most peculiar behavior exhibited by Oliver was habitually walking upright (instead of walking on his knuckle like most chimpanzees do). However, due to old age and arthritis, Oliver no longer walks upright (he is 52 this year!) and had reverted to walking on his knuckles like his fellow chimps. 

Human and chimpanzee genome. M indicated Mitochondrial DNA. Illustration from Wikipedia.

Some of you might know Oliver as the "humanzee", thought to be an intermediate form of humans and chimpanzees due to Oliver's habitually bipedal gait and supposedly having 47 chromosomes (humans have 46 chromosomes and chimpanzees have 48 chromosomes). A paper by Ely et al. (1998) disproved that Oliver has 47 chromosomes. They found that Oliver, in fact, display 48 chromosomes (as expected of chimpanzees) and displayed a high sequence homology to the Central African variety of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes).

Ely, J.J. Leland, M. Martino, M. Swett, W. Moore, C.M. 1998. Technical note: 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

No comments: