First chimp to use sign language dies

The first nonhuman believed to acquire a human language has died Tuesday night of natural causes at the Washington State research institute where she was kept.

Washoe, the female chimpanzee, was born in Africa around 1965. She was named for Washoe County, Nevada, where she lived from 1966 to 1970.

In 1967, Project Washoe was created to teach the chimp ASL because previous attempts to teach chimpanzees to imitate vocal languages had failed. Washoe also taught sign language to three younger chimps who remain at the institute.

Sign language with the chimp has opened a window into the cognitive workings of a chimpanzee’s mind that adds new dimension to human understanding.

Her memorial will be on November 12.

10 Responses to “First chimp to use sign language dies”

  1. pedroisgod
    November 2, 2007 at 4:38 pm #

    shoot. what a tragedy.

  2. Sceptile
    November 2, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    thats awesome except it died :( :cry:

  3. clone
    November 3, 2007 at 10:36 am #


  4. whatche
    November 3, 2007 at 4:00 pm #

    Things like this make me think about the worlds wonders, and that it may all be fun but our time is limited

  5. watch listen interact
    November 3, 2007 at 4:12 pm #

    How sad by the way todays my birthday!

  6. flame boy
    November 3, 2007 at 6:16 pm #

    This is a sad day in history=(

  7. fireboy
    November 4, 2007 at 11:32 am #

    I love monkeys and chimpanzes but I have never heard of one that could do sign language.

  8. dude
    November 4, 2007 at 1:23 pm #

    bye koko (I think that was her, right?) we’ll miss you :(

  9. dude
    November 4, 2007 at 1:24 pm #

    I’m sorry I didn’t read the name right. bye washoe.

  10. Kai
    November 5, 2007 at 9:47 am #

    that is very sad. =(

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