Thursday, April 22, 2010

Does the Earth know it's Earth Day?

When I was a child I was a big fan of tv shows in which people had wild animal friends, living happily together: Flipper, Gentle Ben, and Elsa the Lioness. While this was long before reality tv, at the time I believed that this was an accurate representation of what life would be like if you committed to a life in khaki clothes.

Radiolab recently aired a show entitled Lucy , which tells the story of a family who raised a chimp from infancy, as an experiment, to see if one could be integrated into a human family. (Radiolab is an hourlong radio show that explores issues of popular science, in an inventive and humorous style.) That this has been tried before, and always fails, and can have tragic consequences, seems self-evident to us now. There was a recent book about a similar experiment, Nim Chimsky: the Chimp Who Would Be Human, and it is also a compelling story.

The show featured the writer Charles Siebert, who has written about Lucy and other human-ape encounters, in his book, The Wauchula Woods Accord: Towards a New Understanding of Animals. Lucy's story is a good example of why I like to read non-fiction--if it were a novel, I wouldn't buy it, I wouldn't believe it could really happen. Truth is so much stranger than fiction (another example: The Lost City of Z)

Our local public radio affiliate does not air Radiolab, but you can listen online, and download a new podcast every two weeks. I have learned of many interesting books from the show, and also new favorite musical artists, like Juana Molina. (This link will lead you to the one recording available in our system, she has many more...)

1 comment:

  1. I loved that Lucy episode. Heard it twice. It sounded so logical and true and had my family mesmerized.