The documentary Lucy the Human Chimp premiering Thursday, April 29 on HBO Max, tells the profound story of Lucy Temerlin, a female chimpanzee raised as human from birth in a domestic environment, and Janis Carter, the woman who took on the seemingly impossible task of giving her a new life in the wild.
Directed by Alex Parkinson, Lucy the Human Chimp centers on Janis’s emotionally charged first-person account of life with Lucy. This story of survival against all odds and an unbreakable friendship across the divide between species begins in 1960s suburban America with a radical experiment exploring the boundary between ape and human, and it ends decades later in the depths of a remote African jungle.
The film includes home movies, archival film and photographs from the personal collection of Jane Temerlin, the psychologist who initially raised Lucy, and Janis Carter, much of which has been previously unseen. “No other human has ever lived like this. It’s a privilege to tell Janis’s story for the first time,” said director Alex Parkinson.
Janis Carter is the only human ever to live as the leader of a group of wild chimpanzees. Lucy is the only ape raised as human ever to live in the wild. Their story raises questions about what divides humans from apes and offers profound discoveries about the values we share with our nearest animal relatives. “Janis has waited 40 years to tell this story. It takes us back to a very different time, but it has a powerful message for today,” said executive producer Matt Cole.