Oliver The Chimp: Is He a Humanzee – Half Human, Half Ape?

This is the intriguing story of Oliver, a chimp that was under media speculation whether his peculiar behaviour and appearance meant that he was a humanzee, a hybrid of an ape and a human.

Oliver. After a media uproar from the 1970s, Oliver was given the status of a ‘humanzee’ or a cross between a human and a chimp. In other words, a hybrid. Journalists all over the world were amazed at this bizarre creature that had very peculiar characteristics that one wouldn’t normally associate with an ape.

They branded Oliver as a ‘humanzee’ or ‘Bigfoot’ or ‘the missing link’. The question whether Oliver is a hybrid or an ape still remains till now, although scientific evidence proves it has been answered.

Oliver, along with another chimpanzee, was brought by Frank Burger from Africa to New Jersey in the 1960s. From the very start, both Frank and his wife Janet noticed that Oliver was different from the other chimps they trained.

From a very small age, Oliver could walk on two legs, a feat that not many apes can achieve and even if they are taught to do so, they can only sustain it for a short duration. Oliver had many facial characteristics that weren’t common in other apes. He had a small bald head with pointed ears and a smaller nose. This physical difference meant that Oliver was excluded by the other apes that he was surrounded by.

But this didn’t stop Oliver indulging in human characteristics. Oliver preferred human company and would watch the TV and smoke a cigar. After Frank died, his widow, Janet was in charge of the performing apes that they trained and she believed that Oliver was a Humanzee. She believed that he was like “a little human”.

Some other people close to the Burger family believed that “something is in there”. What set Oliver completely different from the other apes was when he reached maturity, Oliver started to have a very strong attraction to his owner Janet Burger and at times he wouldn’t leave her.

With an ape who was a lot like a human vying for her love, Oliver was then sent off to an attorney Michael Miller who brought Oliver to the media exposure. Oliver reached such heights of media success that he was all over the papers and the news and was even transported to Japan.

The trip to Japan was a turning point for Oliver because even though his owner was told it was going to be for scientific purposes, it was clear that the Japanese media wanted to portray Oliver for entertainment. In a show that grabbed in almost 26 million viewers, Oliver was given through a set of very simple tests conducted on him. A test looking for the centre of gravity in Oliver concluded that he was more human than ape.

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15 Responses to “Oliver The Chimp: Is He a Humanzee – Half Human, Half Ape?”
  1. Mr Ghaz Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Excellent post!!! a very interesting article. ..Half Ape? No! ..its Full Ape..Thanks for sharing this wonderful work


  2. Christine Ramsay Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 6:46 am

    That is such an interesting article. He does look so human in the way he moves. Excellent work.

    Christine


  3. Darla Beck Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Very interesting article.


  4. Papa Sparks Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Wow! This was an interesting read. What made you interested in writing about this in the first place?


  5. fselame Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Wow, great article. Very interesting topic.


  6. Shamanz Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    great vids, good pictures and an even more interesting topic. Definitely something out of the ordinary and I must say I really enjoyed reading it!


  7. Lostash Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    What a strange creature! Fantastic article, your best yet!


  8. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On August 31, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Oliver was a different being thats for sure. Who knows what made him so unusual. Maybe it was an experiment that was hidden. The truth might still come out.


  9. WriteEditSeek Says...

    On September 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    It seems that maybe Oliver is the missing link! Interesting post, photos, and videos.


  10. Brandy Says...

    On September 13, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Brain scans should be done to see if his brain works differently from other chimps.

    I’m assuming structural differences were ruled out as an explanation for his preference for walking upright. I’d heard that chimps that had been injured when young would prefer to walk upright….

    I’m glad Oliver is in a safe haven, as well as all those other chimps. His story will intrigue scientists for many years!


  11. David Says...

    On September 18, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    The article is inaccurate. Oliver has 48 chromosomes, he has a completely normal genetic make-up for Common Chimpanzee, he is most likely from Gabon. He is an abused chimp, who was forced to walk upright. A full genetic and phylogenetic analysis was conducted in 1998.

    Ely JJ, Leland M, Martino M, Swett W, Moore CM (1998). “Technical note: chromosomal and mtDNA analysis of Oliver”. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 105 (3): 395–403.

    “We performed standard chromosomal studies which demonstrated that Oliver had the diploid number expected for a chimpanzee (2N = 48) and that the banding patterns of his chromosomes were typical for a chimpanzee and different from both humans and bonobos.”


  12. Joe Shea Says...

    On December 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    The notes above do capture much of Oliver’s public life, but only those elements specifically created by the government to gather open attention. There is much more to the story.

    Hello. I am an older gentlemen now and while I prefer to stay in the shadows, my failing health and age continue to reduce the potential for reprecussions.

    In the middle 70s, I ran an elite aviation/aerospace group in southern California for a little known agency. Located in the town of Upland, my team was quartered at a small private airfield called Cable. Our public front was that of a civilian aviation patrol club, ostensibly formed to conduct pilot training and air search, etc.

    In the spring of 76, I was contacted through my channels and instructed to perform support assistance for what was then termed Operation BAKER BREAD. In short course, my team Squadron Two Five received ample funding, and received a liaison visit from the Op Controller who was known to me only as Richard. I meet with him in a small place on the Foothill Blvd., the Upper Crust, where I received my general tasking: design and test flight control and operating modules that could be understood and used by a chimp. According to Richard, the protocol was established as a Hot Sheet item, the desire being to preclude any further incident such as that which had befallen Gary Powers.

    Over the months, my team commenced design and prototyping in a private hangar at Cable (N 2-4). We installed the controls and surrogate lifting surfaces onto a sled of sorts in order to permit a controlled examination of the operations without flight risk. In the fall of the year, I first met Oliver.

    One our introduction, he merely strolled into our quonset hut, touched two fingers to his right brow without breaking gait, and helped himself to my package of Camel cigarettes. I was simply astonished. I had been working on a personal device, a machine designed to clean and polish Golf balls, that I intended to market to luxory hotels. Within several hours, Oliver had become familiar enough with the machine to safely operate it – he even adjusted a troublesome switch for the ejection/removal.

    Over the winter months, we began testing our monkey piloted rocket sled. These tests occured far out in the desert; you may still visit the area now by driving 90 or so miles east of a small town called Halloran Springs. While the mechanical testing went well, I began to see the ugly side of Oliver – a side that perplexed and frightened me. A chronic smoker, he would slip into despondant periods during which he would drink alcohol heavily and show aggressive behavior. Several instances nearly shut down the project; one involved his brandishing an empty bottle and striking an assistant (it was poor old man Miller) over the head, apparently to take possession of his felt hat. As Miller lie in the sand, unconcious, I observed Oliver to exhault in the moment, wavering both limbs wildly and flashing his teeth while hooting. He wore the hat for several days, then filled it with his own urine and left it.

    Still more troubling was his untoward sexual conduct. In another incident, a young support staff worker, Patty, fled the camp in a rush and did not return the following week. Months later I was to learn that Oliver had attacked her sexually, and that their union had in fact resulted in pregnancy. Richard arrived to discuss the matter and here revealed that Oliver was, indeed, a hybrid simian. Attempts to breed him to human females had taken place, with those results being termed horrible “pirates and ringmasters”. I learned only later that Patty had been spirited off from the area in order to deliver the offspring of Oliver. I was only to glad when testing was complete. I never heard another word regarding the Op or of Oliver until recently. The recent spate of news makes me wonder if it is all timed to coincide with the progeny of Oliver.


  13. Joe Shea Says...

    On December 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    The notes above do capture much of Oliver’s public life, but only those elements specifically created by the government to gather open attention. There is much more to the story.

    Hello. I am an older gentlemen now and while I prefer to stay in the shadows, my failing health and age continue to reduce the potential for reprecussions.

    In the middle 70s, I ran an elite aviation/aerospace group in southern California for a little known agency. Located in the town of Upland, my team was quartered at a small private airfield called Cable. Our public front was that of a civilian aviation patrol club, ostensibly formed to conduct pilot training and air search, etc.

    In the spring of 76, I was contacted through my channels and instructed to perform support assistance for what was then termed Operation BAKER BREAD. In short course, my team Squadron Two Five received ample funding, and received a liaison visit from the Op Controller who was known to me only as Richard. I meet with him in a small place on the Foothill Blvd., the Upper Crust, where I received my general tasking: design and test flight control and operating modules that could be understood and used by a chimp. According to Richard, the protocol was established as a Hot Sheet item, the desire being to preclude any further incident such as that which had befallen Gary Powers.

    Over the months, my team commenced design and prototyping in a private hangar at Cable (N 2-4). We installed the controls and surrogate lifting surfaces onto a sled of sorts in order to permit a controlled examination of the operations without flight risk. In the fall of the year, I first met Oliver.

    One our introduction, he merely strolled into our quonset hut, touched two fingers to his right brow without breaking gait, and helped himself to my package of Camel cigarettes. I was simply astonished. I had been working on a personal device, a machine designed to clean and polish Golf balls, that I intended to market to luxory hotels. Within several hours, Oliver had become familiar enough with the machine to safely operate it – he even adjusted a troublesome switch for the ejection/removal.

    Over the winter months, we began testing our monkey piloted rocket sled. These tests occured far out in the desert; you may still visit the area now by driving 90 or so miles east of a small town called Halloran Springs. While the mechanical testing went well, I began to see the ugly side of Oliver – a side that perplexed and frightened me. A chronic smoker, he would slip into despondant periods during which he would drink alcohol heavily and show aggressive behavior. Several instances nearly shut down the project; one involved his brandishing an empty bottle and striking an assistant (it was poor old man Miller) over the head, apparently to take possession of his felt hat. As Miller lie in the sand, unconcious, I observed Oliver to exhault in the moment, wavering both limbs wildly and flashing his teeth while hooting. He wore the hat for several days, then filled it with his own urine and left it.

    Still more troubling was his untoward sexual conduct. In another incident, a young support staff worker, Patty, fled the camp in a rush and did not return the following week. Months later I was to learn that Oliver had attacked her sexually, and that their union had in fact resulted in pregnancy. Richard arrived to discuss the matter and here revealed that Oliver was, indeed, a hybrid simian. Attempts to breed him to human females had taken place, with those results being termed horrible “pirates and ringmasters”. I learned only later that Patty had been spirited off from the area in order to deliver the offspring of Oliver. I was only to glad when testing was complete. I never heard another word regarding the Op or of Oliver until recently. The recent spate of news makes me wonder if it is all timed to coincide with the progeny of Oliver.


  14. D.M. Fredette Says...

    On September 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Cool story, bro.


  15. KMD Says...

    On February 28, 2013 at 12:21 am

    If he is a full ape that would knock creationism into a cocked hat. Apparently apes are evolving into humans, although slowley but still evolving.


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