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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK


'Tarzan' hits high note

John is said to have lived with chimps for four years

An orphan boy reared by apes in the African jungle is to take part in a singing tour of England and Scotland.

John, 14, lost his parents in a tribal skirmish in Uganda and was abandoned as a two-year-old in the jungle, in a real-life tale reminiscent of the Tarzan story.

[ image: Johnny Weismuller, right, as Tarzan]
Johnny Weismuller, right, as Tarzan
He was said to have been adopted by a colony of chimpanzees and fed on fruit, nuts and berries, and taught to forage for food.

He was found four years later by a tribesman who spotted him roaming with the chimps.

John was caught and taken to an orphanage 100 miles outside of Kampala, where he lived with the orphanage manager's family.

He was taught to speak and to identifiy himself as a human, but is still able to communicate with monkeys.

He also joined a mixed children's choir after he was found to have a strong singing voice.

He was discovered by Hilary Cook, 56, a dentist from Sheffield, who met him while giving medical assistance on a trip to the area with her 16-year-old daughter.

'Wonderful smile'

She has arranged to bring the choir on a tour of Britain next month, starting in Sheffield.

The BBC is to meet the costs of the tour. It is to screen a film about John as part of the Living Proof Series in October.

Mrs Cook said: "He is a shy boy with the most wonderful smile and because he was late learning to talk he still speaks slowly.

"He also tends to greet people with a hug, much the same as chimpanzees, and when he hugs you, you know about it."

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