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September 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Ellensburg park honors, Washoe, first sign-language chimp

A bronze statue of Washoe sits at the newly completed Friendship Park on East Fifth Avenue in Ellensburg. Washoe, who died at age 42, was the first non-human to acquire a human language, American Sign Language. (AP Photo/Daily Record,Mike Johnston)

The Associated Press

ELLENSBURG — A park in downtown Ellensburg will be dedicated Saturday in memory of Washoe, the first chimpanzee to communicate with American Sign Language.

Washoe came to Central Washington University in 1980 with professors Roger and Debbie Fouts who researched communication with chimpanzees.

Washoe was born in Africa and took her name from Washoe County, Nev., where she lived for a time at the University of Nevada. She died in 2007 at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute on the CWU campus in Ellensburg.

The Daily Record reports Friendship Park was created by supporters in the Washoe Tribute Group. The park features a statue of Washoe signing the word “friends.”

Comments | More in General news | Topics: chimp, Ellensburg, memorial

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