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Mary Lee Jensvold

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Dr. Mary Lee Jensvold is the Assistant Director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI). CHCI is the home of Washoe, the first non-human to be taught some rudiments of a gestural human language, and three other chimpanzees who use some of the signs of American Sign Language to sometimes communicate with each other and more frequently with their human caregivers.

Dr. Jensvold studies communication and other behaviors in chimpanzees. She has been working with Washoe and her family since 1986. In 1985 she received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon, in 1989 a M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Central Washington University, and in 1996 a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

She specializes in ethological studies of Great Apes, animal intelligence, communication, and language. Her studies include chimpanzee conversational skills, imaginary play in chimpanzees, and environmental enrichment for captive chimpanzees. She is adjunct faculty for the Primate Behavior and Ecology Program and the Anthropology Department at Central Washington University.

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