Review Of The Documentary Project NIM Movie Review Sample

Type of paper: Movie Review

Topic: Human, Family, Animals, Chimpanzee, Beauty, Life, Experiment, Science

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2023/02/22

Project Nim is a documentary that gives a narrative of a chimpanzee that was captured from its mother at delivery and brought up similar to a human child in a household in a brownstone in the 1970s. The chimpanzee was taken as part of psychology experiment of a Columbia University. The aim of the project was to identify whether the animal could be habituated to converse with human if it were brought up in ways similar to a human child. He was taken in by one human family in Manhattan Upper West side. The documentary portrays how he learned crucial words in sign language of America. However, he continued to behave like a chimp.
With Nim behaving like chimp, for instance biting children, the family could no longer take him. He was transferred from one caretaker to another for many years. In 1977, he attacked one of his caretakers, and the experiment was terminated. Nim was therefore sent to a medical research institution, where he spent his life confined in a cage for the very first point in his entire life before it was rescued and taken to an animal refuge. When funds set aside for the research elapsed, Nim was sold off to biomedical institutions where he could see other chimpanzees across the room (Beautiful Science, 2008). He was earlier forced to separate from his mother, the family he had related with and now from his caretakers that were a disturbing experience. He later died in 2000.
The researchers did not ethically treat Nim. This is because his rights were violated for the purpose of the experiment. He was denied a chance to be breastfed by his mother since he was taken few days after his birth. This means he was not given an opportunity to grow like any other chimpanzee. He was also denied a chance to develop among other chimpanzees. The virtue that Nim was taken to live with other animal species that is, human species was a challenge. This is because he was forced to learn new things such as the Sign Language. He was manipulated to act as a human through audio enhancement. Nim was tortured by being confined in a cage. Chimpanzees should be freed and not be confined in a cage. Wild chimpanzees wander 1 to 6 miles in one day. Nim was also fed on items that chimpanzees do not consume under normal circumstances such as human milk and smoking. Chimpanzees should be allowed to decide what they want to consume. These items may not react well with the animal hence leading to health problems. The early death of the Nim might have been as a result of the stress it underwent. The change in the environment that is, from living with a human to living with chimpanzees that was entirely a new experience to the chimpanzee.
As recommendations, Nim ideal situation should have been more considerate to the chimp. This means that the experiment should have aimed to understand the chimp psychology and come up with ways to help humans to communicate with chimps but not to work on changing the animal to behave like a human. Another measure that would have been considerate to Nim is to ensure that Nim had other chimpanzees to grow up with (Beautiful Science, 2008). Guidelines for Animal Welfare allow single accommodation for chimpanzees as long as they can see, feel and hear other compatible species (Beautiful Science, 2008). The researchers should have ensured that they took at least more than two chimps in a family so that the chimp can also experience company from its species. Researchers should have provided a shelter to Nim even after terminating their research rather than confine him in a cage or send him away. Animals need space to move freely. Homes are also not large enough to ensure chimps are happy.
The association of Nim with the humans was not of any benefit to him, despite the fact that he learnt signs language to converse with the humans. This is because of the experience Nim went through in his association with the human was disturbing. After Nim failed to act like a human and the funds for research diminished no one cared for him anymore. He was left to struggle alone on how to adapt to his new lifestyle of living with other primates. He was left alone to figure out how to look for food and initially the food was provided (Beautiful Science, 2008). Chimpanzee in confinement can live for up to 55 to 60 years. Nim lived for only 26 years which showed that the conditions he was subjected to might have led to his early death. The release of Nim after been confined for many years left him with some level of traumatic stress perplexity, despair and other psychological harms that required rehabilitation that he did not get.
The research has received many critics some positive and others negative. It was, therefore, necessary to come up with a regulation that oversees the activities of using apes as experiment in research.


Beautiful Science, Project. Nim, Looking for E.T. (2008). Scientific American. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0408-112

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