Sign lan­guage orang­utan dead

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Chantek, a male orang­utan that learned to com­mu­ni­cate in sign lan­guage, has died at the age of 39, a US zoo an­nounced. Ve­teri­nar­i­ans at Zoo Atlanta had been treat­ing Chantek for heart dis­ease, but of­fi­cials were re­luc­tant to give a firm cause of an­i­mal’s death on Mon­day. Chantek was born in Atlanta in the southern US state of Ge­or­gia but raised as a hu­man child by an an­thro­pol­o­gist in Ten­nessee who taught him Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage (ASL). He was the sub­ject of a 2014 doc­u­men­tary ti­tled “The Ape Who Went to Col­lege.”

The orang­utan moved to Zoo Atlanta in 1997. The zoo said Chantek “fre­quently used ASL to com­mu­ni­cate with his care­givers, with whom he de­vel­oped close per­sonal bonds through­out his years at Zoo Atlanta.” How­ever “he was shy about sign­ing with in­di­vid­u­als he did not know and of­ten chose forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion which are more typ­i­cal of orang­utans, such as vo­cal­iza­tions and unique hand gestures.” Orang­utans “are con­sid­ered geri­atric af­ter the age of about 35,” mak­ing Chantek “one of the old­est liv­ing male orang­utans” in North Amer­ica, the zoo said in a state­ment. —AFP

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