Tag Archives: apes

First Sign Language Chimp Dies

WashoeWashoe, the first chimpanzee to be used in a long-term study of the ability of apes to learn sign language, has died in Washington state. The first attempt to teach Washoe sign language was carried out by Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner of the U. Nevada, Reno in the late 1960s. Washoe was later adopted by one of the Gardners’ former graduate students, Roger Fouts, who moved with Washoe to U. Central Washington in 1980. Whether or not Washoe actually learned sign language has long been a matter controversy among psychologists and linguists. Because Washoe was born wild in Africa, her exact age is not known, though she is thought to have been about 42 years of age. A full story can be found here.