July 31, 2015
Washoe first learned some American Sign Language in a research
project in Reno 35 years ago and was named after Washoe
Since 1980, she had been living at Central Washington State
University and died there Tuesday night of natural causes.
Critics contended Washoe and some other primates learned to
imitate sign language, but not true language skills.
Washoe had a reported vocabulary of about 250 words. She taught
sign language to three younger chimps who remain at the institute.
Washoe was the only chimpanzee at the institute who was born in
Africa and was the matriarch of the chimpanzee family. She lived in
Reno from 1966 to 1970 with Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner, of the
University of Nevada, Reno.