Ape taught to use sign lan­guage dies

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

AT­LANTA — An orang­utan who com­mu­ni­cated with re­searchers us­ing sign lan­guage has died at an At­lanta zoo. Chantek was 39.

On its web­site, Zoo At­lanta said Chantek died Mon­day. The cause of death isn’t known, but the zoo says vet­eri­nar­i­ans had been treat­ing him for pro­gres­sive heart disease.

Chantek ar­rived at the zoo in 1997 at the age of 19. He was born at At­lanta’s Yerkes Lan­guage Re­search Cen­ter and spent nine years liv­ing with re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Ten­nessee-Chat­tanooga. Re­searchers raised him like a hu­man child and taught him at least 150 words in Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage. Zoo At­lanta said Chantek was given a “nat­u­ral­is­tic” liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment with other orang­utans once he ar­rived there.

AP/ALAN MOTHNER

Re­searcher Lyn Miles signs to Chantek the orang­utan at Zoo At­lanta in this Nov. 24, 1997, photo.

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