A little orphan chimpanzee, by the name Washoe, was adopted by professor Roger Fouts in 1996, after her mother got killed somewhere in Africa. Washoe was a lucky chimp as opposed to others who are locked behind bars and used for experiments in the labs. She was among the first chimps to learn ASLA (American Sign Language.)
She was able to maintain a strong bond with Roger that lasted for 30 years, being capable of portraying fear, happiness, joy, sadness and compassion. At the age of 17, she met Kat, a pregnant volunteer. She immediately got attached to her, and kept inquiring about the baby in the belly. All of a sudden, the visits made by Kat stopped, making the chimp to be sad, even upon returning after several weeks, Washoe received her coldly.
Kat gave Washoe an explanation that she had a miscarriage that is why she never visited her, then the unexpected happened. Upon Kat saying the words “My baby died,” Washoe responded by the most touching message. Washoe had had two babies who eventually died, making her look sympathetic to Kat and showed how sorry she was for the miscarriage.
This magical moment earned Washoe a baby that she had been yearning for. She accepted to adopt a son with the name Louis, and by 24 hours they had grooved together. With no efforts from the research team, Washoe taught Louis to sign a name the way parents do to their young ones. Louis had learned the first ASL sign in eight days.
Washoe died in 2007 at the age of 42 years with her loved ones present. Although dead, her legacy still remains growing strong, and also demonstrated that animals too are clever creatures.
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This is Washoe. In 1966, she was rescued as a baby and formed a close bond with the humans who helped raise her. She was the first chimpanzee to be taught American Sign Language.
Washoe immediately bonded to a volunteer researcher named Kay, who was pregnant. The chimp loved to ask her questions about the baby in sign language. One day, Kay stopped visiting Washoe, who was so hurt by her lack of visits that she gave Kay the cold shoulder upon her return.
Kat apologized to Washoe, then decided to reveal the truth: she lost her baby. Washoe stared at her, then looked into Kat’s eyes and signed, “CRY,” touching her cheek as if a tear drop was falling. This was a monumental moment, as people didn’t believe that chimps had the ability to empathize.
As it turned out, Washoe also lost two babies after giving birth. After the death of her children, the researchers were determined to have Washoe raise a baby. They gave her the opportunity to adopt Lousli, a little orphan chimp.
It only took one day for Washoe and Loulisi to closely bond. She was completely devoted to her new son.
Without any encouragement from her human caretakers, Washoe took it upon herself to teach baby Loulis, below, American Sign Language. In just eight days, Loulis learned his first sign. Eventually, Washoe and Loulis would sign back and forth like a human parent and child.
In 2007, Washoe passed away at age 42, surrounded by her loved ones. She is remembered for kindness and compassion with both chimpanzee and human companions.
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