Washoe Passes Away

Update: If you are so inclined you can say goodbye here and even make a donation if you wish…
According to MSNBC Washoe has passed away. Washoe, for those who haven’t heard of her, was the first chimp to learn the American Sign Language. According to the story, she died of natural causes and was around 42. From MSNBC:


Washoe also taught sign language to three younger chimps who remain at the institute, Central Washington spokeswoman Becky Watson said. They are Tatu, 31, Loulis, 29, and Dar, 31.

Washoe was the only chimpanzee at the institute born in Africa and was the matriarch of the chimpanzee family. She was named for Washoe County, Nev., where she lived with Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner of the University of Nevada, Reno, from 1966 to 1970.
Primate researcher Jane Goodall, in Roger Fouts’ book “Next of Kin,” noted the importance of the work with Washoe.
“Roger, through his ongoing conversations with Washoe and her extended family, has opened a window into the cognitive workings of a chimpanzee’s mind that adds new dimension to our understanding,” Goodall was quoted as saying.

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Afarensis is somewhat sad after hearing this news, seems a little bit of the wonder has just passed from the world…

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6 Responses

  1. Aw. That’s sad news. First Alex, and now Washoe. Shoot.

  2. Don’t forget Nim Chimpsky, who passed away in March of 2000. You can read his story here:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0231063415/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top/105-4039983-4456400

  3. Sad news, indeed, that a pioneer has passed. And the world may well ask, “What were her last words?”

  4. Washoe was a living bit of anthropology at work for me while I was growing up, and I’m more than a bit wistfully sad at her passing. RIP Washoe.

  5. I just learned that Cheetah the chimp is still alive, at 75 yrs. old. (believed to be the world’s oldest chimp)

  6. Also deceased as of a year or few (?) ago is the gorilla Michael.

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