Washoe, the chimp who could sign, dies at 42

John Locke’s famous assertion, “Brutes abstract not,” was challenged when Washoe, a young chimpanzee, learned American Sign Language.

In 1999 this matter was a constant preoccupation in my family. As part of graduating from grade nine at Island Pacific school here on Bowen Island, the students research and present a major academic work. My daughter chose, Language Between Humans and Apes. It was a year of learning for all of us. At one point she travelled to Ellensburg, Washington, where the elderly chimp was retired. We are sad to read of the death of this amazing animal.

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