Oliver the Humanzee

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Oliver is a world famous chimpanzee who was believed to be the "missing link" in the chain of evolution. Karl's partially embellished account of his life story was the catalyst for the long-running Monkey News feature.


Ollie, seen here without his brandy.

Originally told on the 18 January 2003 show of Xfm Series 2, Ricky and Steve were highly skeptical when Karl told them about a monkey named Oliver (which was, in fact, a chimp) that went mysteriously bald, lived in a house with a zoo-keeper and his wife, smoked cigarettes, drank tea, liked to "finish the day off with a bit of brandy", and would eventually "try it on" with the zoo-keeper's wife. The story was very popular with listeners and it inspired Ricky, Steve and Karl to do a regular primate-based feature entitled 'Chimpanzee That,' which would later become 'Monkey News'.

Oliver's Life

Though Ricky and Steve had apparently never heard of Ollie, he is a fairly well-known chimp, having been the subject of numerous documentaries. He is said to display human traits, such as walking on two feet and having a skull that is closer in shape to that of a human. His trainer, Janet Berger, claimed that Ollie became attracted to her when he reached sexual maturity and tried to mount her on multiple occasions. His behavior lead some in the scientific community to wonder whether he was some sort of human-chimpanzee hybrid, and thus he came to be known as a "Humanzee". However, DNA tests would eventually prove that Ollie was in fact just a regular chimpanzee.


A Channel 5 documentary based on Oliver's life was discussed on the Xfm show (although Karl phoned in as he was absent due to "illness"). Ricky remained adamant that the show did not offer sufficient proof that Ollie was half-human/half-chimp, but it did have many candid interviews and images supporting Karl's claims that Ollie was attracted to women and smoked cigarettes.


Ollie's story was retold on the first series of podcasts. Karl added further embellishments to it, saying that the zoo-keeper became friends with Ollie because they were in a quiet, unpopular zoo and Ollie appeared lonely.

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