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 Comments on First chimp to use sign language dies

  1. shoot. what a tragedy.

  2. thats awesome except it died 🙁 😥

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

  4. watch listen interact // November 3, 2007 at 4:12 pm // Reply

    How sad by the way todays my birthday!

  5. This is a sad day in history=(

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

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

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

  9. that is very sad. =(

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