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The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) is located on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA. CHCI is a sanctuary for four chimpanzees who have learned to communicate with humans and each other using Ameslan and American Sign Language. CHCI's co-directors are Roger Fouts and Deborah Fouts, Mary Lee Jensvold is the Assistant Director. Roger Fouts is Director of Research for Central Washington University.

CHCI's ResidentsEdit

  • Washoe, 1966-. Washoe is the first non-human primate to learn a human language.
  • Loulis, 1978-. Loulis is Washoe's adopted son and the first non-human primate to learn a human language from another non-human primate. This study has generated some controversy within the scientific community. The results were never published in a rigorous, peer-reviewed journal. Also, Loulis uses only 5 total signs so the interpretation that he learned a human language is debatable.
  • Tatu, 1975-.
  • Dar, 1976-.
  • Moja, 1972-2002.

CHCI's HistoryEdit

In September 1980, Washoe, Loulis, and Moja moved to Central Washington University. Tatu and Dar followed the next year. The chimpanzees were originally housed on the third floor of the university's psychology complex. Roger Fouts and Deborah Fouts with their students advocated the campus and the state legislature for a specialized facility for the chimpanzees. The CHCI complex was opened on May 7, 1993.

CHCI's MissionEdit

CHCI works to promote advocacy of chimpanzee conservation and the promotion of primate intellect. The sanctuary hosts public sessions, known as Chimposiums, which allow the public to see the chimps in action. The sessions include a classroom section where the project is introduced and the visitors learn about the chimps, followed by a session observing and interacting with the chimps. For safety reasons, no one -- visitors or staff -- has physical contact with the chimps.

CHCI's FutureEdit

CHCI has no immediate plans to introduce any other chimpanzees to keep the delicate family balance intact. It was suggested that after all but one pass away this might be a possiblity, but not now.

Research OpportunitiesEdit

CHCI hosts opportunities for both undergraduates and graduates. Many volunteer as docents or assistants within the center while others actually conduct research on primate behavior. CHCI has a firm policy of letting the chimpanzees dictate the rules -- research projects which inconvienience the chimps in any way must be aborted. Research is mostly observational.

See alsoEdit


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