Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History
Video: Billy Jo

After being put to work in show business, 37-year-old Billy Jo was sent to the lab for use in medical research. There, he endured months of punch biopsies and other tests. He also chewed off several of his own digits after coming out of anaesthesia. Now, it’s sometimes difficult for his current caretakers to understand his needs.

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  • Randi Burton

    It is sad that we are so inhumane to our closest relatives in the name of advances in science. Can’t we be kind to a close lower species that is not harming us? It is good that PBS is viewing this documentary to make more people aware of what we educated humans do.

  • Kathleen H.

    I was so saddened to see Billy Jo’s outcome just 2 weeks after being able to enjoy the outdoors. Thank you PBS for bringing the plight of these unsung heroes to our attention and giving a voice to God’s nonhuman creatures. It makes me wonder if we really are the “civilized” society we claim to be.

  • Edith Rodriguez


  • Wanda Perry USA

    We need to demand their release from the research labs……

  • Diane Cooper

    All should be on islands…! all should be free to live the life they naturally were born to live…!

  • Diane F.

    Poor babies. I wish Billy Jo could’ve lived longer. But, the good thing is that he knew someone loved him.Thank God for people like the lady who took care of him.

  • Norma Rigg

    Watching this superb documentary, I am reminded that, on the whole, we are a arrogant, disastrous disgrace as a species. We pollute the planet, destroying our own habit and that of every other species. We brutalize, torture and kill millions of our own species and are even more despicable to the creatures that share this planet. W e are too greedy for profit to share previous research so we continue to perform needless research, which is often pointless anyway. Although they are a related species, they are unlikely to react in the same way, often because of environmental adaptation. A sizable proportion of people in this country claim to subscribe to a religion. What does it say about these people who fail miserably to protect their god’s creation, never mind to respect the sanctity of human life.

    I wouldn’t worry about bias. The other side were given their opportunity to put their side. Their silence and the efforts of those terrific women condemns them. If our tax dollars are funding such barbarity, we have the right to know, just as we had the right to know about Abu Ghraib.

  • James

    Man is the most inhumane animal alive. It’s nice to see that there are still people around who care for the animals well being more than the money. Extending our lives is not worth the cost to the animals who un willingly provide the means to the end.

  • Mira Chimpsky

    The only reason I can think of as to why humans are so inhumane (except few ) is that we are so unhappy. I have never seen a healthy person who as happy as other free animals. So many people are relying on drugs, alcohol or anti-depressants just to get through the day, and on sleeping pills to get through the night. And what about the alarming number of teen suicides, maybe they dont want to part of human wrong doing. What’s so great about prolonging our human lives at the expense of torturing and mutilating other animals in the name of medical research? Ultimately, medical research is a futile pursuit. We can treat diabetes, spinal injury or even cancer, we can have the best technology for heart, kidney transplant…one can obtain the most comprehensive insurance coverage but we can make humans happy. All around I see people are suffering- mentally or emotionally or physically and desperately want to get help. Everyday, we are witnessing our human presence is turning the garden of eden into a garbage dump! We even created a god so we can play god (self-entitled) to enslave other animals- factory farmed animals, circus animals, lab animals, …), no wonder we are so depressed and tormented. Thanks to the whole film crew to make this very sad documentary public by exposing what goes on behind the closed doors of medical labs. Please please DO NOT call these chimps as unsung heroes, they are simply the few among billions non-human victims under our human tyranny.

  • Judith

    Very worthy comments by Norma. Gloria Grow of the Fauna Foundation, the late Carol Noone, rip Carol, and so many others work tirelessly on behalf of the chimps. And the NEAVS organization who have been working on getting all lab chimps into permanent sanctuary.

    To those who care about the chimps can help by contributing to Fauna, Save the Chimps, NEAVS. I spent a day at the Fauna Foundation and it was such an honor and privilege to be able to visit with the chimps. Sadly, Tom, Jeanne and Billy Jo passed on. Bless Gloria Grow for giving them the last few years of life some comfort in a place where they were loved and cared for.

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