Ape taught to use sign language dies
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.
Researcher Lyn Miles signs to Chantek the orangutan at Zoo Atlanta in this Nov. 24, 1997, photo.