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Lost in Light is a videoblog about small gauge filmmaking featuring weekly posts of home movies, work by artists, articles by preservationists and film scholars, video tutorials and other film gems.

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Apes on Skates



click image to play in Flash | Quicktime | MPEG-2


This week, more home movie goodness from Casey T. of Virginia, whose grandfather, Paul H. of Waukee, Iowa, shot this rather astounding footage of a chimpanzee show back in the 1950s. I don’t think we’d see something quite like this today at a U.S. zoo.

Paul shares some details in an email to Casey:

These pictures were taken at the St. Louis Zoo in the summer of 1954. I was either stationed in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, or had just been separated from the service and had a civilian job on the post for the summer before heading for Norman, OK for law school. Grandmother and I took your mother in a buggy and went through the zoo. The chimp act was spectacular, and was well publicized at the time. We had a great day at the zoo. Your mother was only a few months old, so I don’t think she cared much one way or the other about the chimps. The chimps acted as though they were really enjoying showing off for the people in the audience.

View a high-resolution version of this film and others from Casey’s collection at the Internet Archive. See the MPEG-2 link above.

Music: Edgar Mallaran, “The Carnival Clown Balloon Popper” from the Podsafe Music Network.

Comments

Comment from Robert
Time: December 8, 2007, -5

Where do you find this stuff!

Where do you find this stuff!

Classic old zoo experience. I remember going to chimps’ tea parties in England when i was a small boy. Most English zoos had them. The tide began turning on such things, I think, in the 70s.

There was a series of famous tv ads over here for PG Tips Tea, which had voice dubbed chimpanzees acting out humourous human scenarios. I remember hating such use of those magnificent beasts. Especially because in the early 70s I was reading Gerald Durrell animal expedition books and Jane Goodall’s fantastic In the Shadow of Man, about her time living and studying the primates of the Gombe National Park.

The plight of the great apes now is thoroughly depressing. But this is brilliant rare footage nonetheless.

Comment from Robert
Time: December 8, 2007, -5

Oops. Sorry, I put an extra ‘l’ at the end of the ‘chimps’ tea parties’ link. Perhaps it could be removed. 🙂

Comment from Robert
Time: December 8, 2007, -5

In fact, why don’t I just put the chimps’ tea party image link.