Re: Ape language project

11 Nov 1995 14:47:36 GMT

In article <47s73e$>, (Lynn Garth) writes:
>The ape language projects have always fascinated me, so, I just wanted to
>see if anyone has any thoughts, insights, or inside knowledge on any of
>projects. I'm very curious as to how many of the originale American Sign
>Language chimps are still in a learning environment; I understand that
>many had to be placed in bio-medical research facilities when project
>funding ran out. Washoe and several others taught their offspring ASL,
>but how far did they take it? How quickley did they default to body
>language when they were not in the company of humans? If anyone has any
>thoughts, I'd like to hear them.

Hi Lynn,
Washoe & 4 other signing chimps (including Loulis, her adopted son, whom
she taught sign language to) live in special facilites at the Chimpanzee
and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University, in
Ellensburg, WA. The institute is directed by Roger & Deborah Fouts. Roger
was involved with the original project after it was moved to OK. From what
I understand, these chimps still use ASL with others and among themselves,
but I am uncertain how extensive their vocabulary is (although I recently
wrote asking just that). If you caught that episode on 20/20 Roger was
seen with one of the original project chimps, Boee, who has been in medical
research for some time & still uses signs (one of the caretakers has a deaf
child, and so knew ASL). Boee has recently been retired, due largely to
publicity from the show, but there is an on-going search for other former
project chimps, whose whereabouts are uncertain. The listserv "Primate
Talk" has regular info about this and, also, if you're interested, the
Communication Institute offers a summer apprenticeship program where one
can go and see the chimps, and interact with them if one knows ASL. You
can e-mail Mark Krause at for more info.