Tatu climbs the fencing in the outdoor area

Research and Our Mission

 

How Research Meets Our Mission

CHCI has an active research program examining chimpanzee behavior, sign language studies, communication, and animal welfare. These areas of research all share a common theme of communication. We address three objectives:
1. How do chimpanzees use American Sign Language?
2. How do chimpanzees and humans communicate gesturally?
3. How can we improve animal welfare?
We believe that through an understanding of communication, we can improve animal welfare.

Objective 1: How do chimpanzees use American Sign Language? CHCI is home to three unique chimpanzees who communicate using American Sign Language. Two of the chimpanzees, Tatu and Dar are the remaining chimpanzees from a world famous cross-fostering project - they were raised throughout childhood by researchers Allen and Beatrix Gardner. The third, Loulis, learned his signs from other chimpanzees. The research at CHCI focuses on their use of signs in conversations with humans and each other and includes topics such as conversational repair, communicative intentions, sign modulation, and topic maintenance. Data collection on conversations between chimpanzees and humans and among the chimpanzees is ongoing. The potential addition of new chimpanzees would allow CHCI to address the question of cultural transmission. Since the CHCI chimpanzees are unique in their use of ASL, the transmission of ASL to other chimpanzees would be ground breaking research and that would be impossible in any other facility. It would generate ongoing research exploring this unique phenomenon. Finally CHCI houses written and film/video records of chimpanzees signing and behavior spanning 40 years including footage of Washoe the first chimpanzee to learn sign language. This would allow decades of research. CHCI with the Library Dean has received a grant from Lounsbury Foundation for $60,022 to inventory on an NEA archiving grant to preserve this unique collection.

A sampling of publications and presentations in this area of research include:
Leitten, L., Jensvold, M.L., Fouts, R., & Wallin, J. (In press). Contingency in requests of signing chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Interaction Studies.
Bismanovsky, D., Zager, L., & Jensvold M.L. (2010, March). Recent Patterns of Conversation in an Adult Chimpanzee Using American Sign Language. Paper presented at the Northwest Anthropological Association, Ellensburg, WA.
Cole, M., Herigstad, T., & Jensvold, M.L. (2010, March). Daily Arousal Levels Effect on a Chimpanzees Categorical Sign Usage. Paper presented at the Northwest Anthropological Association, Ellensburg, WA.
Gibbons, J., Leake, M., Potosky, R., & Jensvold, M.L. (2010, March). Use of Holiday Related Signs by a Cross-Fostered Chimpanzee. Paper presented at the Northwest Anthropological Association, Ellensburg, WA.
Jensvold, M.L. (2009). Animals and language. In K. Malmkjaer (Ed.), Linguistics encyclopedia (pp. 9-15). Routledge: London.
Jensvold, M.L., & Gardner, R.A. (2007). Conversational use of sign language by cross-fostered chimpanzees. In F.R. Lewis (Ed.), Focus on non-verbal communication research (pp. 237-279). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Fouts, R.S., & Jensvold, M.L.A. (2002). Armchair delusions vs. empirical realities: A neurological model for the continuity of ape and human languaging. In M. Goodman & A.S. Moffat (Eds.), Probing human origins (pp. 87-101). American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Fouts, R.S. Jensvold, M.L.A., & Fouts, D.H. (2002). Chimpanzee signing: Darwinian realities and Cartesian delusions. In M. Bekoff, C. Allen, & G. Burghardt (Eds.). The cognitive animal: Empirical and theoretical perspectives in animal cognition (pp. 285-292). MIT Press.
Jaffe, S., Jensvold, M. L., and Fouts, D. (2002) Chimpanzee to Chimpanzee Signed Interactions. In V. Landau (Ed.), Chimpanzoo conference proceedings: The chimpanzee community (pp. 67-75). Tucson, AZ: ChimpanZoo.
Jensvold, M.L.A., & Gardner, R.A. (2000). Interactive use of sign language by cross-fostered chimpanzees. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 114, 335-346.
Cianelli, S. N. & Fouts, R. S. (1998). Chimpanzee to chimpanzee American Sign Language communication during high arousal interactions. Human Evolution, 13, 147-159.
Fouts, R. S. & Mills, S. T. (1997). Next of kin. New York: William Morrow.
Bodamer, M.D., Fouts, R.S., Fouts, D.H., & Jensvold, M.L.A. (1994). Private signing in chimpanzees. Human Evolution, 9, 281-296.
Jensvold, M.L.A., & Fouts, R.S. (1993). Imaginary play in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Human Evolution, 8, 217-227.

Objective 2: How do chimpanzees and humans communicate gesturally? While the CHCI chimpanzees use human gestures they additionally use the natural gesture of their species. Research projects at CHCI have explored various aspects of natural gestures in captive and free-living chimpanzees and this research is ongoing. These studies show that various chimpanzee groups have gestural dialects and that chimpanzees use combinations of gestures to communicate with conspecifics. This research is made possible by the chimpanzees at CHCI and the collection of videotapes from African chimpanzee sanctuaries and field settings. These studies extend into the human population as well including individuals with autism and signing children. This currently includes collaboration with Cherry Lane Assisted Living Facility in Portland, OR.

A sampling of publications and presentations in this area of research include:
Campion, T.L., Jensvold, M.L., & Larsen, G. (2011). Use of gesture sequences in free-living chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. American Journal of Primatology, 73(1), 97.
Leeds, C.A., Davis, A., Jensvold, M.L., & Fouts, D. (2011, March). Evidence for Menstrual Synchrony in Captive Chimpanzees. Poster presented at the Northwest Anthropological Association, Moscow ID and (2011, May) Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.
Hicks, T.C., Fouts, R. S. & Fouts, D. H. (2009). A survey of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the selectively-logged Ngotto Forest, Central African Republic. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 12(3), 165-188.
Krause, M. A., & Fouts, R. S. (1997). Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) pointing: Hand shapes, accuracy, and the role of eye gaze. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 111 (4), 330-336.

Objective 3: How can we improve animal welfare? CHCI has a history of research exploring animal welfare. Early studies included environmental enrichment for the chimpanzees. This was funded for 11 years through Earthwatch. Current studies explore the relationships between caregivers and chimpanzees at CHCI and zoo settings. In August 2011 Mary Lee Jensvold through invitation presented this research at the Detroit Zoological Society's seminal symposium From Good Care to Great Welfare Advancing Zoo Animal Welfare Science and Policy. This demonstrates that CHCI is recognized as an international leader in scholarship on animal welfare. Additionally we have examined ways to lessen the negative impact of visitors both to CHCI and zoo settings. This research is currently funded by the Animal Welfare Institute and includes collaborations with The Zoo Northwest Florida and the Oakland Zoo.

A sampling of publications and presentations in this area of research include:
Jensvold, M.L., Zager, L., & Bismanovsky, D. (2011, August). Promoting Animal Welfare: Interactions with Caregivers and Zoo Visitors. Paper presented at From Good Care to Great Welfare: Advancing Zoo Animal Welfare Science and Policy Symposium. Detroit, MI.
Jensvold, M.L., Buckner, J., & Stadtner, G. (2010). Caregiver-chimpanzee interactions with species-specific behaviors. Interaction Studies. Special Issue of Human-Animal Interactions, 11, 396-409.
Reveles, J., & Jensvold, M.L. (2010, March). Visitor Knowledge Gains in a New Educational Workshop: The Chimposium. Poster presented at the Northwest Anthropological Association, Ellensburg, WA.
Jensvold, M.L., Buckner, J., & Stadtner. (2009, September). Caregiver-Chimpanzee Interactions with Species-Specific Behaviors. Paper presented at the joint conference of the International Congress of Zookeepers and American Association of Zookeepers, Seattle, WA.
Jensvold, M.L. (2008). Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) responses to caregiver use of chimpanzee behaviors. Zoo Biology, 27, 345-359.
Jensvold, M.L. (2007). Promoting positive interactions between chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and caregivers. Laboratory Primate Newsletter, 46, 1-4.
Jensvold, M.L., Field, A., Cranford, J., Fouts, R.S., & Fouts, D.H. (2005). Incidence of wounding within a group of five signing chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Laboratory Primate Newsletter, 44, 5-7.
Jensvold, M.L.A., Sanz, C.M., Fouts, R.S., & Fouts, D.H. (2001). The effect of enclosure size and complexity on the behaviors of captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 4, 53-69.
Fouts, R. S. & Fouts, D. H. (1999). My brothers keeper. In M. Rowe (Ed.) The way of compassion. New York: Stealth Technologies, 192-194
Fouts, R. S. (1998). On the psychological well-being of chimpanzees. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1(1), 65-73.