Washoe, the Sign-Language Chimp, Dies at 42 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washoe, the Sign-Language Chimp, Dies at 42

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. - A chimpanzee who could talk to people using American Sign Language has died at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

The university's Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute says Washoe (WAH'-show) was the first chimpanzee to acquire a human language.

She was born in Africa about 42 years ago and trained at the University of Nevada at Reno in Washoe County, for which she was named. She was moved to Central Washington University in 1980 with other chimps for communication research led by Roger Fouts

Washoe died last night of natural causes.

She could use more than 100 words and could put them together -- like OPEN FOOD DRINK to refer to a refrigerator.

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