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NATURE: Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History

Airs Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Jeannie lives at the Fauna Foundation in Carignan, Quebec.

Credit: Tony Beck ©EBC

Above: Jeannie lives at the Fauna Foundation in Carignan, Quebec.

The history of chimps in our society is a history unlike any other. We have sent them into space, dressed them in costumes and demanded that they entertain us. Some have been adopted into human families until they “outgrew” their cuteness, many have been used to test our drugs or to help develop our vaccines, others have been infected with our most frightening diseases.

While we are mesmerized by their likeness to our species and we have continually found uses for chimps, we never considered what they wanted or needed.

But their side of the story is starting to emerge. And it can be heard at the sanctuaries where many retired chimps now reside. It can be read in their medical records, seen in their mutilated bodies, or sensed through their psychological afflictions. We’ve had a conflicted relationships with chimps in our society but there are some people who want to simplify it.

"Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History" will introduce you to the rescuers at sanctuaries like Fauna Foundation, Save the Chimps, Center for Great Apes. And they are determined to see that the traumatized residents they have saved from a life of confinement and suffering can finally be allowed to feel like chimps. Allison Argo is an award-winning filmmaker and the writer, director, producer and narrator of "Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History."

Read more about the alternatives to chimp testing.

Web Exclusive: Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History

Award-winning filmmaker Allison Argo takes us behind the scenes of the film "Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History." This web exclusive video features the filmmaker discussing her motivation and some of the challenges she faced while filming. Argo is the writer, director, producer and narrator of the film.

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