Our Northwest

New park honors ASL-talking chimpanzee

Friday, September 21, 2012by  Jon Osterberg

A new park dedicated in Ellensburg Sept. 22 pays tribute to Washoe, the chimpanzee who was the first non-human to learn American Sign Language, and who died at Central Washington University in 2007 at age 42.
     Washoe, born in Africa in 1965, came to Central’s Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute in 1980 and learned an ASL vocabulary of more than 250 words. Amazingly, she single-handedly taught ASL to other chimpanzees. Friendship Park in Ellensburg includes a bronze statue of Washoe signing the word “friends.” Read the Daily Record article about the new park and a 2007 Seattle Times story about Washoe’s passing.

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