Seeking a cure for polio, Dr. Bernard Adrian discovers a novel, if gruesome, means for collecting the human spinal fluid he needs: masquerade as the escaped circus animal whose rampaging has already resulted in multiple deaths. With “The Ape” (1940) starring horror great Boris Karloff as the good doctor, you just know something is going to go very, very wrong.
However preposterous the plot, Dr. Adrian’s quest—and moral dilemma—would have had a sharp sting for many viewing this film at its release. Before vaccines became available in the 1950s, paralytic polio struck as many as 20,000 Americans per year, including US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The infectious disease can result in complications including paralysis, skeletal deformities and even a syndrome that can occur decades after infection. A global effort to eradicate polio through vaccination has dramatically reduced cases worldwide.
Cynthia FurseUniversity of Utah researcher Cynthia Furse discusses the ethics of research with human subjects in this interview.
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Cameron HastieApe Keeper Cameron Hastie separates primate fact from fiction in this interview.
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