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Washoe the Chimpanzee

Washoe the Chimpanzee was born on September 1965 without the exact day. But her birthday is celebrated on June 21, 1966 in celebration of Project Washoe’s anniversary (Meet the Family, 2008). She originated from Africa and was brought to the United States by Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner who adopted her to use for their research (Meet the Family, 2008). She was named after Washoe Country Nevada where she was taken care by the two researchers who adopted her. Her name means “people” in Native American language (Meet the Family, 2008).

The Gardners took care of her from 1966-1970. Her guardians treated her like a deaf human child. ASL or the American Sign Language is the unique quality of this animal. She acquired the said learning with the aid of her guardian and Dr. Roger Fouts (Associated Press, 2007). Their attempts to teach them vocal language was a failure but they was able to taught her to acquire 250 words used as a sign language. Washoe was described as a chimpanzee who shows maternal behavior towards other chimpanzees.

She invest herself making friends with other chimpanzees and she was able to develop a good sense of humor (Meet the Family, 2008). Her past time are reading books, magazines and shoe catalogs. She wants to stay outdoor mingling with peers. Like a normal human being, she brushes her teeth, drinks coffee and paint pictures. She also befriends human being by checking out shoes for them. She also managed to teach sign language to three younger chimpanzees they are Tatu, 31, Loulis, 29, and Dar, 31 (Associated Press, 2007).

Being known as the first chimpanzee to acquire human language, she passed away Octboer 30, 2007 at Chimpanzee and Human Communications Institute campus after a brief illness.


Meet the Family (2008). Friends of Washoe website. Retrieved, March 16, 2008 from: http://www. friendsofwashoe. org/washoe_bio. shtml The Associated Press (2007). First chimp reported to learn sign language dies: Washoe also taught the language to three younger primates Retrieved, March 16, 2008 from: http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/21569837/? gt1=10547

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