Monday, November 12, 2007

Washoe signs "Seeya"...

This is from the Friends of Washoe Web site. Washoe was a chimpanzee, a very special one in age and signing ability, at Central Washington University’s Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. CHCI is a sanctuary for a unique family of chimpanzees who have acquired the signs of American Sign Language (ASL) and use those signs in conversations with each other and their human companions.

Washoe is pictured here. (She is the one on the right.) I've highlighted like this some of the information I found most interesting.
Our beloved friend Washoe passed away Tuesday evening, October 30, at 8:00, after a brief illness. At the time of her passing she was at home at CHCI, with her family and closest friends.

Washoe was 42 years old, a long life for a female chimpanzee. Most females in captivity live an average of 33.5 years.

Friends are invited to attend a memorial service for Washoe on Monday, November 12 at 10:00 a.m. (Ed. note: That is today. I should have posted this earlier. That’s on me.) The service will be held adjacent to CHCI in a tent.

Parking will be available in Lots P-8 (Library) and O-5, on the corner of 14th and D Streets.

ASL interpreters will be provided.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Washoe’s name to Friends of Washoe, to continue supporting her family.

You can leave your remembrance of Washoe at our Tribute Page.

More from Friends of Washoe.
Washoe was born in Africa, around September of 1965. She is the only one of the four chimpanzees at CHCI to have been born in Africa. Her capture probably consisted of a hunter killing her mother and then taking her to market to be sold to a dealer. After she was brought to the United States for the Air Force, Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner adopted her for their research.

Washoe is the matriarch of this family and was the first chimpanzee to acquire a human language. Her name sign is formed with the fingers of a “W” hand flicking the ear on the same side. She was named for Washoe county Nevada where she lived with Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner until age five.

Full Name: Washoe Pan satyrus. Pan satyrus is an old taxonomic classification used for chimpanzees. She was named for Washoe county Nevada where she spent her early childhood with the Gardners. Washoe is a Native American word from the Washoe tribe meaning “people.”

Pronunciation: wa’ show

Name Sign: “W” flicked on ear. Refers to the large ears she had as an infant that she has since grown into.

Date of Birth: Unknown; estimated to be September, 1965. Washoe’s birthday is celebrated on June 21, 1966, the anniversary of “Project Washoe.”

Place of Birth: Washoe was born in West Africa, wild captured, and later used by the US Air Force.

Taxonomic Classification: Pan troglodytes troglodytes

Early Childhood/Rearing Conditions: Washoe was adopted by Drs. Beatrix T. and R. Allen Gardner on June 21, 1966. She was cross-fostered; that is, she was raised in the Gardners’ home as if she were a deaf human child. Washoe was the first non-human to acquire a human language -- American Sign Language. She moved with Roger and Deborah Fouts to the University of Oklahoma in 1970 and came with them to Central Washington University in 1980.

Personal: Washoe is the matriarch of the CHCI chimpanzees and can be described as maternal in her behavior toward the other chimpanzees. She is known for being fair and kind with both chimpanzee and human companions. Washoe is slow to invest herself, but with time, she becomes a loyal friend. She has a good sense of humor.

Favorite Activities: Washoe appears to enjoy spending time in her outdoor area. She spends her free time looking through books, magazines, and catalogs (especially shoe catalogs). She apparently likes to look at them by herself but doesn’t mind signing about the pictures with friends. Other activities she engages in are brushing her teeth, painting, coffee and tea parties, and checking out the shoes of her human companions.

Favorite Foods: Oatmeal with onions, pumpkin pudding, split pea soup, eggplant, gum, tea and coffee.