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Saturday, July 16, 2022

Oliver The Human Chimp

A short video is once again making the rounds. It is on a YouTube channel. Let me first say, this is NOT a bigfoot or sasquatch.

FCastle6969 is currently housing this video under the title 2016 Bigfoot captured on Trail Cam! The description of the footage reads: "Camera was strapped to a branch about 10 feet above feeder pointing down when this was caught, location near the Klamath River, Oregon/California border."

Here is the video

FCastle6969 needed to do some homework. Many of the viewers of this segment caught on immediately to what/who was actually in the few shared frames. Let me introduce you. It is none other than Oliver the Human Chimp. These few frames are actually of Oliver in the video titled "Oliver the Chimp Part 1". This comes from the YouTube channel by primate1234. If you don't wish to watch the entire video, fast forward to the 2:37 mark and see for yourself as to the origins of the footage shared by FCastle6969.


Even sadder than the misuse and abuse of the video footage is the sad tale of Oliver.

He first came to attention when his trainers Frank and Janet Berger, owners of a traveling animal act, introduced him to the public. They stated he had been captured in the Congo and that they believed him to be something other than a chimpanzee. Touted as a human-chimpanzee hybrid, they showed how he walked bipedally and showed his flatter face.

The facial shape was found later to have been caused by the removal of his teeth. Being toothless, his bone structure developed differently than what is usual in a chimp. It was  determined later on that his bipedal walk was most likely accomplished through training and conditioning. That may have come about when Oliver appeared not to get along with the other chimpanzees that the Berger's owned and would not train with them to perform tricks. The Bergers claimed Oliver was happiest sitting in chairs and helping Janet in household chores.

Whether that was true or not, Janet, in a 2006 interview, claimed that Oliver tried to mate with her and she told her husband that either the chimp went or she would. Oliver was sold in 1976 to New York attorney Michael Miller.  Miller in turn gave the animal to Ralph Helfer the next year.

Helfer owned a small theme park in California called Enchanted Village. This park closed the next year and Helfer then exhibited Oliver in his Gentle Village park until 1982.

Oliver was then transferred to the Wild Animal Training Center in California. The owner Ken Decroo held him for a few years then sold him in 1985.

Bill Rivers was the last trainer to own Oliver. It was said that Oliver continued to have problems getting along with other chimpanzees which was a problem for trainers wishing him to join their animal acts.

In 1989 Oliver was purchased by the Buckshire Corporation in Pennsylvania. Their business was in loaning out animals for research. The staff there noted that Oliver had undergone rough handling before coming to them. He was never used in any experiments. However, he was kept in a small cage [about 7ft x 5ft]. The restrictive size of this cage resulted in muscular atrophy. This progressed to the point where his limbs trembled. In 1996, Sharon Hursh, president of Buckshire Corporation, was petitioned by Primarily Primates to allow Oliver to be retired to their colony of chimpanzees. She agreed.

Primarily Primates, founded by Wallace Swett in 1978, was located in Texas. In 1998 Oliver moved to the Texas facility, older, partially blind and arthritic. He was unable to cope with the younger, more energetic chimpanzees so he was placed in his own spacious, open air cage.

In 2006, he, along with the other inhabitants of the refuge, fell under the temporary care of Lee Theisen-Watt, a wildlife rehabilitator. It was court ordered for her to oversee Primarily Primates while the state of Texas considered charges against the refuge and who would be in control of the facility.

Texas reached a settlement agreement on April 27, 2007. Theisen-Watt was removed as overseer. The state replaced her with a board of directors headed by Eric Turton and Priscilla Feral. All charges against Primarily Primates were dismissed. Swett was required to leave the property and was prohibited from serving on the board or as an employee.

The new board was concerned over Oliver's condition and treatment, having expressed their concern during the hearing. They merged with Friends of Animals, and with their help restructured the management of the facility and addressed the concerns for the future of the facility and its animals.

Oliver benefited from the changes and lived out the remainder of his life under the care of the restructured sanctuary.  He was placed with a gentle female chimpanzee named Raisin for companionship. The two seemed to get along well together. Oliver took part in planned activities designed to enrich his life. These included watermelon smashing parties and painting. He had access to the outdoors and lived a good, quiet retirement life.

He died in his sleep on June 2, 2012 with Raisin at his side. He was thought to be around 55 years old. Some scientists desiring to conduct tests upon his body, were dismayed when the facility announced that Oliver had been cremated and his ashes spread. It was considered by many to be a blessing to give him that dignity in his death.

For those wondering if he was a chimpanzee or a hybrid - a missing link.

In 1996 his DNA was tested by the University of Chicago. He had the normal 48 chromosomes of a chimpanzee. His head shape and features fell well within the normal range of chimpanzees from the Congo region. Especially when his toothless condition was taken under consideration.

I believe Oliver is deserving of further dignity and that we should remember his face. And when people try to misuse his identity in a fake bigfoot story we should stand up and tell them to stop misusing Oliver. He deserves better from us.

(sources include various internet sites, blog posts, and newspaper articles. Photos courtesy of Associated Press archives.)


"I'll spark the thought; what you do with it is up to you."
 "Those that know, need no further proof. Those that don't, should not demand it from others, but seek it for themselves."

This Post By TCC Team Member Nancy Marietta. Nancy has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and cryptids. Nancy is also a published author and her book, The Price of war, has been met with great reviews.

[Please Note: Sadly Nancy passed away at the first of January, 2022. We will continue to honor her and her research by sharing her work. RIP Nancy. -Thomas]

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