Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

They can speak for the animals.... because the animals are talking to them

Posted: 2 June 2005

They can speak for the animals.... because the animals are talking to them “Chimpanzees are people” says Professor Roger Fouts.

This week Roger and Deborah Fouts, Directors of the Chimpanzee and human Communication Institute at Central Washington University, are in the UK for the launch of ‘My Mate’s a Primate’, a new campaign on the relationship between humans and other primates, from Animal Defenders International.

For over forty years, the Foutses have communicated with chimpanzees using sign language.

Roger and Deborah’s remarkable story began in a US laboratory in 1967 where they taught a chimpanzee, called Washoe, American Sign Language for the Deaf. Since then, they have shown that chimpanzees can not only learn sign language, but use it to instigate conversations with people and other chimps. The chimpanzees have also passed these communication skills on to their children and have even taught themselves contractions of the verbs we use.

The Foutses have compiled a huge amount of scientific data, confirming that chimpanzees are not only more than 98% similar to humans in terms of DNA, but have comparable intelligence and emotions. They have had over 100 articles published in science journals on the subject

Today, they are dedicated to caring for chimpanzees in captivity and have a wealth of moving, humourous, and thought provoking stories illustrating the intelligence and emotions of these our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

The “My Mate’s a Primate” campaign, unveiled by Alexei Sayle at the Natural History Museum today, highlights the threats to and abuse of all the primate species and the industries which exploit them for entertainment, as bushmeat, as pets, and for experimentation.


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