Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) was located on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. CHCI included a sanctuary for chimpanzees who have learned to communicate with humans and each other using American Sign Language. CHCI's director is Mary Lee Jensvold. It was founded by former co-directors Roger Fouts and Deborah Fouts.

Former resident chimpanzees[edit]

  • Washoe, 1966-30 October 2007. Washoe was the first non-human primate to learn some rudimentary forms of ASL, a true human language.
  • Loulis, 1978 - (moved out in 2013). Loulis is Washoe's adopted son and was the subject of a project that examined whether he would learn sign language from other chimpanzees. The complete research was not published in a peer-reviewed journal, but can be found in a book published in 1989 entitled "Teaching Sign Language to Chimpanzees" edited by Allen and Beatrix Gardner.
  • Tatu, 1975 - (moved out in 2013)
  • Dar, 1976 - 2012[1]
  • Moja, 1972 - 2002

Loulis and Tatu, the remaining two chimpanzees in the center after the natural death of Washoe and Dar, moved to the Fauna Foundation in Quebec in late August 2013,[2] where they will be integrated into an existing group of eleven chimpanzees.


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, and the The CHCI complex was opened on May 7, 1993. More than twenty years later, on August 28, 2013, the last two remaining chimpanzees moved out of the CHCI.


CHCI promotes advocacy of chimpanzee conservation and the promotion of primate intellect. The sanctuary hosted public sessions, Chimposiums, which allowed the public to see the chimps in action. For safety reasons, no one—visitors or staff—had physical contact with the chimps.

Research opportunities[edit]

CHCI provides research opportunities for both undergraduates and graduates. When it housed the chimpanzees, many volunteered as docents or assistants within the center while others conducted research on primate behavior. Research projects which inconvenienced the chimps in any way were not permitted; therefore, research was mostly observational.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CWU Chimpanzee Dar Dies at 36". Central Washington University. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  2. ^ "CWU Chimpanzees Arrive Safely at Canadian Sanctuary". Central Washington University. Retrieved 3 January 2014.

External links[edit]