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Meshie, child of a chimpanzee

Identifier: Film Collection no. 213

Scope and Contents

Meshie Mungkut was born in 1929 in French Cameroun (Cameroon) in West Africa and was orphaned shortly thereafter when natives killed and ate her mother. Henry Cushier Raven, AMNH curator of human and comparative anatomy, was in French Cameroun on the Columbia University-AMNH Expedition to collect gorillas and purchased her from the natives. He kept her with him in the field for another year and then brought her to his Long Island home to be raised with his children. This film records Meshie's domestication and behavior at the Raven's home. She is seen unlocking locks, untying knots and shoe laces, eating with a spoon, drinking from cups and with straws, bathing, riding her kiddie car, shovelling snow, pulling sleds, playing with a water hose, reacting to other animals (small and large snakes and a mouse), and leading a parade of children on bicycles. An entire sequence is devoted to Meshie's maternal instincts as she cares for Mary, the Raven's newborn daughter. She gives Mary a bottle, holds her, and cleans the high chair after feeding her. By 1934 Meshie, now seventy pounds and as strong as a man, had become unmanageable. She was sold to the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago where she died in 1937 after giving birth to a daughter. Her remains were returned to the AMNH for preparation and she presently can be seen in the Hall of Primates, sitting on a log, her chin propped up on her knuckles, looking pensively at all who pass.


  • [1932?]

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (42 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 35 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (42 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 35 mm. fine grain master positive.



Henry Cushier Raven, photographer.

Meshie, child of a chimpanzee, [1932?]
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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New York NY 10024 USA
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