- At one point, as Washoe entered her teenage years, Roger gives her Playgirl magazines (she indentified with humans, not other chimpanzees), and she would look at the pictures and masturbate.
- One day Roger was outside taking a smoke break. Washoe was watching him and since she hadn't been taught a sign for cigarette, she signed: "Give me fire stick."
- Washoe was mated unsuccessfully a couple times -- the babies died. One of the grad assistants became pregnant, then left for maternity leave. The baby was still born. When she returned, Washoe was exited to see her and signed about the baby. The grad assistant had to sign that the baby died. Washoe made the sign for "crying" and tried to console the woman.
- Washoe decided that the color black was cool -- so whenever she wanted to express her pleasure over something, she'd sign: "That [is] black".
That's just a few of the many situations that remain in my consciousness. Chimpanzees have a lifespan that's very similar to ours, adult chimps are similar in size to humans (yet VASTLY more powerful), and must be constantly stimulated in captivity or they will go insane. Washoe and her family live a good life at Central Washington University. They put on weekly "Chimposiums" where visitors, for a small fee, can view Washoe and her family. It's been about 5 years since my visit, but I plan to return. In the summer, they have a program where for a couple of grand you can spend 2 weeks among them, observing them and cataloging data for the ongoing research. I hope to one day be able to afford it. It would be an honor, and a vacation to beat all others. Yeah, I'm that taken by our next of kin.
Do me a favor -- the next time you go to a zoo and see a chimpanzee or great ape, look into his/her eyes and try not to see the intelligence and the comprehension there. It's a fool's errand -- you will fail. Roger Fouts along with other organizations are working to save the chimpanzees and the great apes from the horrors of medical experimentation and small enclosures. Not from the standpoint that they're animals that deserve respect, but from the standpoint that they are more in line with who we are. That as intelligent, thinking animals, like ourselves, they need more rights and greater protection. And in the end, should never be caged for our entertainment or any other reason. It is a worthy battle, one I support whole-heartedly, but don't expect to see much of a change in my lifetime. Remember, as a species, we can look into the eyes of our neighbors and bomb the hell out of them with little more than a shrug of the shoulders over what they have the potential for. Maybe spending so much time trying to protect our fellow species is a fool's errand too. I hope not.
P.S. The picture is of Washoe.