In 1931, a baby and a chimp were raised together as part of a bizarre experiment

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Baby Donald with Gua

Almost a century ago, comparative psychologist Winthrop Niles Kellogg and his wife welcomed a baby chimpanzee at their home. Their plan was to raise the primate alongside their own baby boy, Donald. It didn’t end well.

Gua, born on November 15, 1930, was the first chimpanzee to be used in a cross-rearing study in the US. She was brought into the Kellogg home at the age of seven-and-a-half months and reared with their son Donald, who was 10 months old at the time.

As described in The Psychological Record, the bizarre experiment was to see how the environment influenced the development of a child.

The Kellogs started to raise the chimp and their son as ‘brother and sister’.

It was reported that Mr. Kellog had always dreamed of conducting the experiment ever since he was a student. He was fascinated by wild children, who never came in contact with humans.

The experiment went on for 9 months for 12 hours a day and seven days a week. During this, the couple carried out several tests on Gua and Donald.

Donald’s “blood pressure, memory, body size, scribbling, reflexes, depth perception, vocalization, locomotion, reactions to tickling, strength, manual dexterity, problem-solving, fears, equilibrium, play behavior, climbing, obedience, grasping, language comprehension, attention span, and others,” The Psychological Record author’s noted.

In other words, they were being raised the same way. But sadly, the couple got more than they bargained for as their son started exhibiting ape-like traits.

The experiment had to be cancelled because Donald started to behave like a chimpanzee, showing aggression, biting people and even making ape-like noises. It is said he barked at Gua when he wanted more food and began walking on all fours.

Alarmed by the negative results, the Kellogs ended the experiment abruptly. But it was already too late.

While not much is known about the son, it was reported he killed himself at the age of 43 in 1973. Gua was returned to the primate center where he was adopted from Florida. There, she was the subject of further studies. She died of pneumonia at age 3.

Authors in The Psychological Record said: “(The experiment) probably succeeded better than any study before its time in demonstrating the limitations heredity placed on an organism regardless of environmental opportunities as well as the developmental gains that could be made in enriched environments”

“We are told only that the study was terminated on March 28, 1932, when Gua was returned to the Orange Park primate colony through a gradual rehabilitating process,” they added.

Over the years, experts have come up with several theories as to why the experiment was terminated. Some said the chimp was becoming too strong for Donald. Others said the couple was exhausted by the experiment for nine months. They also started losing hope because Gua was unable to learn human signs and languages.



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