Oliver The Chimp

Oliver The Chimp

Ratings: 5.96/10 from 27 users.

Oliver The ChimpIn January 1976 news broke of a phenomenon. Pictures showed an upright bald ape called Oliver, who appeared to be a cross between a human and a chimpanzee; What scientists refer to as a humanzee.

Oliver's photographs shocked the world, and in the media frenzy that followed he became an international celebrity. In Japan his human-like behavior earned him cult status. In New York some journalists described him as the missing link. Others dubbed him Bigfoot. Oliver gradually faded from the spotlight and eventually disappeared.

Now 30 years later, he has been found still alive. And with the latest DNA profiling, we can finally solve the mystery of the humanzee.

More great documentaries

50 Comments / User Reviews

Leave a Reply to Hardy Cancel reply

  1. awful_truth

    An interesting twist for a documentary. Intriguing was the inside story of someone in the early 1900's that crossed a human with a chimpanzee, and brought it to term. (just to see what would happen - human nature)
    Oliver's attempt to mate with his human female owner spoke something of his desires, (no wonder she sold him) and the Japanese women who was willing to mate with Oliver said something of hers.
    What I appreciated most was the scientist who was trying to patent the combination to expose the hypocrisy of the change in patent laws regarding living organisms. ( greed rules the day, without exception)
    In any case, a documentary worth checking out, if only to consider the 'possibilites'.

  2. disqus_syCR1NFI7Z

    Does anyone else see the difference in facial structure between the Oliver from the beginning of the film and the "Oliver" from the end of the film? I'm sorry but they look like two totally different Chimps to me.

  3. Arthur Axelman

    Check out any documentary on the Bonobo Ape. It's Oliver's origins. He was NOT ever a chimanzee, he was a Bonobo Ape. With all of the shysters and con man (and women) surrounding and exploiting the sweet and bright ape, including supposedly knowledgeable scientists and animal pros, no one ever mentioned the Bonobo possibility?
    Once again, Oliver was NOT a chimpanzee, he was a Bonobo Ape.
    RIP dear fellow.

  4. Anita Ersson

    People seem to have a need to humanise just about everything so it is no surprise to me that when shown a creature that naturally reflects a large amount of human like characteristics that is immediately jump to the conclusion that it must be part human. We don't want to accept that other animals have the capability to change and grow and become more human, we want to maintain our separate status that makes us unique. Obviously that means that anything so similar to us has to be human in some way.

    1. Max S

      But Oliver did sometimes seem to engage in rather tame behaviors, almost cultured when compared to other chimps. And, pathology might explain some of his characteristics...but there were so many. We were confronted here, with something we should have treasured, studied and tested at the psychological level, conducted massive x-rays, scans, blood work. We did a couple of blood studies that yielded varying results, but both of which suggested something rather dramatic.Only toward the end of his life, did he receive treatment resembling what he should have had, excepting the Burgers. Africans and some visitors have reported sighting "agogwe", and these seem to resemble Oliver. Africa was the home of primates and man, and many variations on chimpanzees--and primates in general. I hope we haven't seen the last of this line...yes, I'm inclined to think it's a line.

  5. Shaughn Xavier Alexis Clark

    R.I.P Oliver 1958 – 2 June 2012

  6. Thomas Stanfield

    damn too bad that Japanese chick didn't bang him. what the hell is wrong with that lawyer?

  7. john kay

    leave oliver and his cousin george bush alone

    1/3 of you would chase, capture, transport, imprison, analyse, poison, cut, probe, kill , then preserve poor ole Oliver as a trophy
    1/3 of you would mostly do the same but eat him
    1/3 of you would make him a pet
    doesnt leave many of you to just let him be and the people that would are considered

    dont check his molecule dna hormone structure check yours

    hes not a mutation; you are
    he has evolved but you havent

    perhaps if people didnt destroy everything then we can really leaarn something and we could all evolve
    people shoukld stop over analyzing everything
    if you shutup and listen you might learn something
    the world and oliver is talking to you - enjoy it for what it is

    i bet this monkey has more intelligence than most people

    silly, stupid human race
    too smart ? for its own good
    death to you all

    1. Samantha Renaud

      Chimps are apes, not monkeys. Get it right...

    2. Yogurt Head

      Speak for yourself. I fall no where near any of those three categories. Learn some grammar, btw.

    3. Reginald V. Finley

      And, we are all mutations. No organism has a pure origin on this Earth. We all descend from a common ancestor; and thus, we are all mutants. :-)

    4. dewflirt

      Woo! X Men! ;)

  8. zaphodity

    Looks like George Bush.


    pretty cool documentary, the constant questioning of whether or not he was a chimp or human made me view oliver in both ways.
    despite the dna results, its still interesting to hear from people's firsthand impressions of and experiences with oliver.
    i can only imagine the implications if the dna results found oliver to be more human than chimp. i enjoyed the documentary.

  10. harry nutzack

    oliver appears to be the living evidence of the "evolutionary dead end".. a major "variant" mutation of his species, that wouldnt fit well into the "environmental niche" efficiently exploited by his species... his rejection of species socialization shows he never would have reproduced in the wild... it would have been interesting to compare his midachonrial dna to a humans, just to see what abberant differences in the chimp "normal sequence" he exhibits tend to align with "human normal" sequence...

  11. Michelle A. Drew

    I'm a little suspicious of the "friend" , you know the proff. pianist who volunteered to keep Oliver after he tried date rape Janet. He seemed a little to eager for the job if you know what i mean....

  12. qwony

    lol a real life "Harry and the Hendersons"

  13. gero2006

    What a depressing documentary. Nothing to take comfort in except the humane attitude of the 'Primarily Primates' staff who are trying to care for abused primates. Well done them. Because of you we humans can almost hold our heads up. Shame on everyone else.

    It's hard to find someone to single out for opprobrium when so many deserve it, but I would pick (a) Dr Patrick Dixon for his complacent, creepy, repellant attitude about the 'inevitability' of monkey-human hybridisation (b) the person, I've forgotten the name, who breeds 'ligers' i.e. lion / tiger hybrids for being an idiot who should not be allowed to abuse the animals in his 'care' and (c) the lawyer who took Oliver to Japan for his self-serving, money-grubbing attitude which seems to have come straight out of 'King Kong the Movie'. Some people have not lost their integrity; they have had it surgically removed, driven a wooden stake through it, and then buried it under a ton of concrete to make sure it never, ever, comes back. Shudder.

    About Oliver: there is a standard ratio which relates body size and brain volume. For his height, Oliver appears to have an abnormally small skull. The footage of Oliver shows him often making a 'lolling tongue' facial expression. It is abnormal in apes for the tongue to protrude to this extent. If the skull were malformed then the tongue might be 'too big for the mouth' and thus be forced forward. There were few recordings of Oliver's vocalisations but what I could hear sounded abnormal for an adult male chimp or bonobo and this might be further evidence of malformation of bones and soft tissues. Abnormalities in the skull often correlate with abnormalities elsewhere in the skeleton and might account for the upright gait. It could be that the unique characteristics of Oliver may be best explained as symptoms of a congential abnormality i.e. what makes him unique is pathology (which may explain why he has not, so far as we know, successfully mated). All that argues against pathology is his longevity. On balance, I do not think it likely he represents a new species, although it would be pleasing if he did since we have so few ape species on earth at present.

    Whatever else you might say about this, Oliver's story does not reflect well on humanity. We look pretty shabby in this.

  14. Mark

    Jack doesn't realize that his argument supports evolution as much as it tries to disprove it. He shows that random mutation can produce human-like characteristics, which is all evolution requires to produce humans over time.

  15. Jackie

    Looks like someone have been having sex with a chimpanzee..~

  16. Bustin Jeiber

    Uh wierd

  17. yourboycal

    What is all this monkey business about now?

  18. Epicurus


    my comment about the skeletal structure was in response to jack claiming if archaelogists found his skeleton they would claim it was a missing link. but that wouldnt be the case because nothing about what they would find would show that.

    if you have read my other comments on here you would have understood me better...i dont hold it against you.

    and spoon...notice how humans suffer from lower back problems almost universally....that is because WE are quadrupeds that have evolved to walk on our hind legs but havent evolved that ability perfectly so it still hinders us. we once walked just like they do because we both evolved from the same ancestor.

  19. Spoon

    @Charles B.
    Well said.

  20. Fish

    your understanding of evolutions seems to be rather outdated. There would not have to be any skeletal differences at all, and it could still be a completely different species, sub species, or mutation. Genetics is turning up species within species all the time. For example the giraffe was once thought to be a single species, but because of genetics it has now been shown that there are 6 or more species (known as crypto species). There are no visible differences, but when you look at the DNA you find that one species of giraffe and another have been separated for over 100,000 years.
    You rather rudely told Jack the Rabbit not to comment if he doesn't even have a high school understanding of evolution, but it seems to me like a high school understanding of evolution might be all you have.

  21. Epicurus

    @James, Do you know what type of skeletal differences there would have to be for it to be classified as a different species.

    also why would we have to examine the skeleton if we know the genetics? once again. a basic understanding of evolution would clear all this up for most people.

  22. john

    maybee he is the next step in chimp evolution...after all evolution is mutation.

  23. Isaac

    Based on most of these comments I assume that the majority of people posting didn't actually watch the whole documentary.

  24. Vance

    Was interested until "Dr Patrick Dixon" mentioned a hybrid Human-Monkey. Discussion being about a Chimpanzee, which is an Ape.. Day time TV, not science.

  25. cian

    he looks like mike tyson

  26. eireannach666

    this is too funny.............i want an Oliver......... well not if hes a bonobo like Randy said ....... good point by the way .I saw a great doc on bonobos a while back, I think on PBS .... after watching this , one should try to find it @pbs.org or somewhere like that......... great point though.......

  27. Randy


    Rolling on the floor laughing! (I hate internet slang, even as I use it from time to time because all the kids are crazy about it these days...)

  28. Hardy

    Bonobos, the sinners among god's creation.

  29. Randy

    I haven't watched this doc, but I have heard of Oliver before, years ago. I knew about it peripherally, but never paid it much mind, assuming it was a trained chimp, (knowing they can walk upright for short periods, even in the wild.

    Years later, I saw him briefly discussed, on ANOTHER documentary on evolution and went, "hmmmm..." but then didn't really pay it any more mind.

    Since then, I have learned about the Bonobo (I am spelling it phonetically), chimp discovered by Jane Goodall in... I'm gonna say, mid to late 90's? Very recent, in any case.

    The Bonobo's were an exciting find because they seem, characteristically at any rate, much closer to humans. They walk upright for a much longer time and more frequently than other chimps. But more importantly, they have sex with each other for comfort, rather than only when the females are in estrus (I know I spelled that wrong so I'm gonna use the more vulger term, "in heat"), and are the only other mammals besides us that do so.

    They also engage in ORAL SEX, homosexual behavior, and, creepily, sex with pre-pubescents... (nature is sometimes very ugly...).

    Dr. Goodall never noticed them before, she says, because she always focused on specific troupes of chimps, and when she noticed the Bonobos she assumed they were just another troupe of the same species she studied.

    I submit, just off of the hip here, that perhaps Oliver was a Bonobo. Which, as I say, wasn't discovered until very recently.

    1. Gabe Hankrn

      Dr. Goodall never discovered Bonobo's. Also, earlier on this page there is not accurate information probably copied from the inaccurate information on Wikipedia. Bonobos' were not discovered in 1926, they were "discovered" by whites in 1929 and LONG known to native peoples before this. Here is a synopsis of what happened.l

      One afternoon in 1928, Harold Coolidge, a Harvard zoologist, was picking
      through a storage tray of ape bones in a museum near Brussels. He
      examined a skull identified as belonging to a juvenile chimpanzee from
      the Belgian Congo, and was surprised to see that the bones of the
      skull’s dome were fused. In a young chimpanzee (and in a young human,
      too), these bones are not joined but can shift in relation to one
      another, like broken ice on a pond. He had to be holding an adult head,
      but it was not a chimpanzee’s. Several similar skulls lay nearby.

      oday, frequently used popular sources such as Wikipedia and some books
      have German anatomist Schwarz fully credited with discovering the “pygmy
      chimpanzee” in 1928, even incorrectly saying he was the one who found
      the type specimen skull in the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa
      in Tervuren, Belgium (sometimes called the “Tervuren museum”). Schwarz
      published his (overheard? borrowed? stolen?) findings in 1929. Coolidge
      finally published his notes fully in 1933.

  30. James

    @Epicurus: how would you know there is no skeletal structure that would show a change in species in Oliver? My argument is that since he is a mutant ape, his bones may have been altered as well that can be perceived by so called archeologist that he has skeletal changes. Scientists cannot tell whether Oliver is half man - half ape or just ape when they examined him, I would thought they would do at least x-ray on his skeletal bones but they still can't tell. They only found out after they took his DNA the second time. Have you seen Oliver's skeletal bone? How the hell can you be 100% sure? Maybe you should be more open minded or are you one of those archeologists who wants to keep his job just a bit longer?

  31. Epicurus

    there is no difference in his skeletal structure that would show a change in species or a drift in evolution.


  32. jack the rabbit

    Imagine Oliver died and buried, 10-100 yrs later an archeologist dig his grave and found his bone, an ape who walks upright, this archeologist will no doubt claim that Oliver is the missing link. Oliver is the proof that ape can through mutation walk upright and who knows how many mutant apes have been found by archeologists who claimed that they found the link between ape and human? Archeology is full of this kind of mistakes and they make theory of evolution based on these mistakes. Which make it very unreliable.

  33. Somethin

    It's unlikely that he is just a mutated chimp. Mutations of that degree usually make the subject unable to live on its own, without major surgery.

    For both the hip and the head to be mutated in a usefull way without creating major problems....possible, just as possible as Aliens landing tommorow at 6:00 in the morning. ;)

    Plus there is the sophisticated social behavior.

    My guess is: He's part of a subspecies, yet to be discovered.

  34. Charles B.

    Poor Oliver. What a sad life he's had. I don't think he's some new kind of ape, either. That's rubbish. Rather, just an unfortunate chimp mutation which was exploited because of his differences. Perhaps other chimps rejected him sensing that he was geneticly inferior in some way, "as a chip". Let us hope no true "humanzee" is ever created in the lab or otherwise.

  35. Karen


  36. Yavanna

    OMG don't bring Ostrich Human Hybrids into the discussion - it's confusing enough!

  37. lanvy

    if @loli is human but insist on sticking in head in the sand like an ostrich, it sounds VERY POSSIBLE there's a birdbrain in our mist.

  38. anti_

    @ loli

    Chromosomal numbers don't make it "IMPOSSIBLE".
    Mules and Hinnies have 63 chromosomes, a mixture of the horse's 64 and the donkey's 62.

  39. loli

    Absolutely disgusting abuse of a living being! Ridiculous to believe that a human and chimp DNA would combine to make a "humanzee" Our chromosomal numbers are not alike, hence IMPOSSIBLE!!

  40. kedhar

    Well theres a soul in there for every living being. Its their behaviour that makes us think theyre just living 'things'.

  41. Yavanna

    During the Napoleonic Wars a French ship was wrecked off the Hartlepool coast.

    During the Napoleonic Wars there was a fear of a French invasion of Britain and much public concern about the possibility of French infiltrators and spies.

    The fishermen of Hartlepool fearing an invasion kept a close watch on the French vessel as it struggled against the storm but when the vessel was severely battered and sunk they turned their attention to the wreckage washed ashore. Among the wreckage lay one wet and sorrowful looking survivor, the ship's pet monkey dressed to amuse in a military style uniform.

    The fishermen apparently questioned the monkey and held a beach-based trial. Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman looked like they came to the conclusion that this monkey was a French spy and should be sentenced to death. The unfortunate creature was to die by hanging, with the mast of a fishing boat (a coble) providing a convenient gallows.

  42. Hardy

    Mh boring doc. No scientific research, just providing food for the sensation-hungry. This is probably as low on my scale as "ZOO".

  43. Kyrie


    It's interesting that his scent is different and that normal chimps won't interact with him.

    Look at the way he smiles in Part 3. It's very human-like!