Nim vs. Zan, Two Different Chimps with Similar Journey’s

Project Nim was a scientific project done by Columbia University. The project is that they took a chimpanzee as an infant and brought him up as if he was a human being. They taught him how to talk using sign language. Nim Chimpsky was absorbing signs and learning how to talk. Eventually however he got too big to take care of and the University had to give him back. After later review by Dr. Herb Terrace he concluded that Nim couldn’t actually use the human language. This real life event has many similarities and differences with the book Half Brother that our class read. Over a span of two months we read about Zan, a chimp who also learning sign language for an experiment. There are many similarities and differences between these two, chimps however the message is the same thing.

When these two chimps were brought into the human environment when they were infants, they were both breast fed as if they were actual human babies. Even from the start, the scientists always thought of them as a scientific project. Even though Nim and Zan were being brought up as a human and Nim and Zan acted like a human, and other people thought of them as humans. Both chimps bit people who they thought stood in their way or angered them. With both of the projects it was deemed that they could not use the english language. When the chimps got sold to other universities they were both in danger of being sent to bio medical facilities. The one minor difference is that Nim was sold to a bio medical facility before they saved him. Zan was saved before he landed in one. When the project was over, both of the scientists from the projects no longer had an interest in Zan anymore and didn’t have any interest in going back to see him. Dr. Terrace the Nim scientist went back to see Nim for a staged photo shoot. At both of their facilities, they were not treated any different from the other chimps because they knew how to sign.

There were also some differences with the book and the project. In the book, they are in Vancouver, British Columbia and the university was the University of British Columbia. In Project Nim, they are in New York studying at the Columbia University. Nim did not live with the professor in charge of the project; instead he actually lived with a couple of different caretakers. Nim invented some of his own signs. Nim was not with the same caretaker during the entire duration of the project unlike in Half Brother. In Half Brother, the sanctuary where Zan was taken to couldn’t afford to pay for Zan so the Tomlin’s gave him to the sanctuary. In Project Nim, the sanctuary bought Nim right out of the bio-medical facility.

There were some happy parts to this documentary and to the adventure of Nim. The bio-medical facility where Nim was sold to (LEMSIP) ended up closing which resulted in Nim getting friends at the sanctuary. The sanctuary where Nim was residing at purchased two other chimps that Nim knew from the biomedical facility. This meant that Nim would be happier and healthier having friends that he could socialize with.

There were also some disturbing parts of this documentary. One of those things is what Nim was allowed to do when he was at the one facility. Nim was allowed to drink alcohol. Although it was in the 70’s, and it was a part of the culture back then, I still think that it is disturbing or a bad thing that they would allow a chimp to do that. Some of the scenes that were taken inside of the bio-medical facility I found fairly disturbing especially where they were injecting the chimpanzees with the shots. I also found it fairly disturbing in the documentary when they had to knock out Nim in order to transport him from the University to the place where he belonged. I think that is disturbing because I think that he deserves to know what is going on around him and know what’s going to happen to him. The most disturbing thing of all is the only reason that Herb went back to see Zan was for a staged photo shoot. It wasn’t that he actually wanted to see Nim, it was strictly that he was in it for the publicity in my opinion.

Some new information that I did learn from the documentary is that Nim or any other chimp would grow up to be about 5x the strength of a human. In order for new medicine to be sold on the American health care market, it must be tested on four chimpanzees and it must pass each test with positive results.

Put yourself in these two chimps shoes, imagine that you were taken from birth from your mother to be raised as a chimp. Then taken out of that environment to be taken to be tested on. And not knowing who to trust. What would you do if this happened to you?




Robin Barker-James owns a property just outside of Tillsonburg that houses authentic war simulation sites. One of them are the Battle of Lundy’s Lane and the taking of Fort Niagara, where students get to re-enact these famous battles that occurred during the War of 1812. Yesterday, we (Turnberry gr. 7/8) went there to re-enact these battles facing students from Midland, Michigan. It was a very real experience because we were facing real American blue coats and we were real British redcoats.

One of my best memories from yesterday is when I was firing the cannons into Fort Niagara. During the taking me and 4 other British regulars were supposed to fire cannon balls (tennis balls) into the fort to distract the Americans from the oncoming attack from the First Nations and the other British Regulars. It was really fun and challenging at the same time because you had to make sure that you landed them in the fort and not too short or far.

Another fun moment from yesterday was during the presentations when the General Hull and the Fall of Fort Detroit group was presenting. To simulate the taking of Detroit, they had little army men set up at the fort and the pretended to shoot them down with rocks. Then for the finale of it they dropped an actual 12 lb cannon ball on it.

I learned some different war strategies such as using your surroundings as cover. We also learned to make a berm which is a brick wall to cover cannon fire coming from the other side. Also that you have to be very quick with your cannon implements. When you are using your corkscrew, mop and rammer you have to have it done by the time the other cannons are ready to fire. I also learned that when there is more than one cannon it is best to be in unison when you are firing and using your implements. I learned how to fire a cannon and all the procedures that you have to go through in order to fire it safely. Using the corkscrew to clean out all the hot embers from the last time you fired it, then use the mop to clean out the barrel. And finally use the rammer to make sure the cannon ball is in the bottom of the barrel and will fire. I learned how a musket fires and the proper procedures to make it fire also.   

There was one big lesson that I took away from yesterday. It is that we were fighting our brothers, cousins, uncles. We were the same people. We were family that was literally torn apart from war. We were fighting against our own blood in a lot of cases. I also took away that it was not a very easy war to fight. The British were dealing with often faulty weapons that would misfire, and extremely inaccurate. I also learned that it can be pure craziness on the battlefield, on the battlefield any plan you once had is immediately thrown out the window. War is never a good thing, but in ways the War of 1812 shaped our future nation.



My most awesome thing is golfing in the late hours of the afternoon. Driving to golf cart around the course while trying to avoid the obstacles. Sometimes even making a putt that makes you feel as if you have just won the masters. Walking the course and imagining that you are Bubba Watson or Tiger Woods. When you drive the ball and it lands in the middle of the fairway, it makes you feel like a pro. Awesome.

A Chimp is a Chimp; You can’t change that.

In the Idea Hive, right now we are reading the novel “Half Brother” by Kenneth Opel. It is about a University professor, a group of students, his wife and son teaching a chimp named Zan how to talk through sign language. So far in the book we have learned that the father Richard who is the professor doesn’t like to do much work and bond with Zan. So Richard’ son Ben and one of the students Peter are doing a lot of the work load. After being denied a large grant from the government, they get a chair called ‘the learning chair’ to strap him in when he is bad and won’t sign. They are raising a chimp as a human. The question I have chose to answer is: Peter describes Zan’s situation – being taking from the wild and brought up as a human – as a “kind of slavery” (p. 161). What does he mean by this? Do you agree or disagree? Explain.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Dhammika Heenpella / Images of Sri Lanka

I do agree with what Peter said about how Zan got taken out of the wild and raised as a human as a kind of slavery. It’s like how in the holocaust when the Jewish people were taken out of their homes, and into concentration camps. For example, the Jewish people were forced out of their homes or their natural environment just like how Zan was forced out of the wild which was his natural environment. They Jewish people were slaves for the German soldiers, and Zan is a slave for Richard and the experiment. Zan was born with the instincts to survive in the wild, and humans were born with the instincts to survive with necessities. Humans need to survive with food, water, shelter and air. Chimps don’t need shelter to survive. So there is no point in making him survive a human life style, where as he is happy and natural living his own lifestyle in the wilderness. Zan is a form of a slave, and I don’t think it’s right. He is a chimp, let him be one.

What do you think, is it right to make a chimpanzee live a human way of life even if he is happy living his own way?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Rickydavid

Half Brother Connection

This year in the Idea Hive we are reading the story Half Brother. Half Brother is a story about a family who moves to B.C. because the father accepted a job as a professor. His father is using a chimpanzee for expirments and raises him as a human. While there the protagonist Ben at first doesn’t like having Zan around, then he started to like having Zan around. We had to write connections we had to the book. Here is mine.

In the story Half Brother, Ben is embarrassed to bring his friends over to his house because of his little brother Zan. Sometimes I am embarrassed to bring my friends home because of my little brother.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jinterwas

Polar Bears

There are issues facing some of the biggest predators in the north. These issues are global warming and the shortened hunting season. The Polar Bear needs to have a long hunting season on the sea ice. However with global warming the sea ice is coming in late which is causing the Polar Bear to fend for it self on land instead of the sea. We have to help these creatures survive the ever-changing world.

Our class became very attached to the bears after skyping with Mr. Andy Mckiel and learning about his experiences with the polar bears in Churchill Manitoba. We decided to take some action and do a fundraiser. We decided to raise money for the Adopt a polar bear fund for Polar Bears International. There are different levels that you can reach and we decided on the 250 dollar donation. Which we exceeded. We raised a total of 293 dollars towards the charity.

I think that helping the Polar Bears is very important because they are on the endangered list of Canada. It was a very good learning experience learning about the Polar Bears struggles and how they need help. It was a very good cause and I think that everyone should donate a little bit to the Polar Bears.

I created a Glogster to summarize my research.

Wow, I Really Should Have Stretched Better

This year for gym we did a unit on cross-country running. Every day when we got outside for gym we would run around the field. Our field is approximately .5km. So everyday we would run a different distance, record our time and eventually caculate our pace.

For my data I had a good percent difference. My percent difference, which is the biggest number in my data menace my lowest number in my data and then divided by the smallest number. My overall percent difference is 88%, which means that the time between my fastest and slowest paces is 88%.

There are improvements that I made in my cross-country running this fall. I made improvements on my pace this year. I also made improvements on how much I can run at a time. My pace improved quite a bit during the year. It went to 6:04 to a low of 3:31. But it was only 0.75km that I ran for the 3:31.

What goals have you made this year to improve your physical fitness?

There are goals that I have made this year to improve my physical fitness. Those goals are, hopefully 30 minutes more a day of exercise. I would also start running more than I currently am. I would like to run 5 minutes a day if I can.