Let me tell you the story of Oliver the Chimp. In 1960, Oliver was acquired as a young animal by trainers Frank and Janet Berger. Supposedly, the chimp was caught in the Democratic Republic of Congo and sold on the exotic animal black market. In appearance, Oliver clearly stands out in a group of male chimpanzees, as he has many human-like features. He looks nothing like a normal Common Chimpanzee and holds a flatter face. Oliver is a habitually bipedal animal. He has always walked upright and never moved on his knuckles like other chimps. He holds a bizarre pointed ear shape, freckles and a bald head. The Berger’s raised Oliver until 1977, when he was sold to Ralph Helfer and put on public display in a sideshow. In a 2006 interview with the Discovery Channel, Janet Berger claimed that she sold Oliver after he started tying to mate with her.

This had led to the speculation that Oliver prefers human females over chimpanzees. In fact, other chimpanzees that have been placed in the same cage with Oliver avoid him at all cost. After spending seventeen years with the creature, Janet Berger believes that his physical and behavioral tendencies point to a different origin, perhaps a human-chimp hybrid. In the early 1980s, the Los Angeles Times did an extensive article on Oliver, marking him as a possible missing link or new sub-species of chimp. In 1989, Oliver was purchased by the Buckshire Corporation, a Pennsylvanian laboratory leasing out animals for scientific and cosmetic testing. During this time in his life, Oliver lived in a tiny cage and experienced rough handling. This eventually caused an extreme case of arthritis and muscular atrophy, so severe that Oliver’s limbs routinely tremble. The testing of his DNA has been an intense and controversial subject.

Supposedly, a test performed in the 1980s proved that Oliver contained only forty-seven chromosomes, instead of the normal forty-eight. However, this claim has not supported by scientific evidence and has been refuted by a geneticist from the University of Chicago, who tested Oliver’s blood and found that he had the normal forty-eight chromosomes. Since that time, Oliver’s DNA has not been tested. He will not be made available for any DNA style inquiries again. In 1998, Oliver was given a spacious, open-air cage at the Primarily Primates sanctuary in the US state of Texas. He was put under the temporary care of wildlife rehabilitator Lee Theisen-Watt, who was fired in 2007 for wrong doings. During the history of the Primarily Primates facility, they have undergone a series of legal battles, with a majority of the cases concerning PETA.

Today, Oliver is still alive and living at Primarily Primates. Many pictures and videos of him exist on the Internet.




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