Peter Singer, The Troubled Life of Nim Chimpsky
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
—Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince
Perhaps Herbert Terrace, professor of psychology at Columbia University, and director of the experiment that is the subject of Project Nim, a new documentary by James Marsh, never read The Little Prince. The sad story of Terrace’s irresponsible treatment of Nim, the chimp he tamed—or more strictly, whose upbringing in a human family he organized—is the guiding thread of this revealing film, which raises important issues about the distinction between humans and animals, about our attitudes toward animals, and about scientific objectivity (or the lack thereof) in behavioral research.