The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) was located on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. CHCI included a sanctuary for chimpanzees who have learned to communicate with humans and each other using American Sign Language. CHCI's director was Mary Lee Jensvold. It was founded by former co-directors Roger Fouts and Deborah Fouts. The institute was closed in 2013 when the remaining chimpanzees were transferred to facilities in Quebec, Canada and the building the facility was housed in, was demolished in 2018. Portions of the specialized structures used to house the chimps were dismantled and moved to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, for future use.[1]

Former resident chimpanzees

Loulis and Tatu, the remaining two chimpanzees in the center after the natural death of Washoe and Dar, moved to the Fauna Foundation in Quebec in late August 2013,[3] where they will be integrated into an existing group of eleven chimpanzees.


In September 1980, Washoe, Loulis, and Moja moved to Central Washington University. Tatu and Dar followed the next year. The chimpanzees were originally housed on the third floor of the university's psychology complex. Roger Fouts and Deborah Fouts with their students advocated for, and lobbied the campus and the state legislature for a specialized facility, and the CHCI complex was opened on May 7, 1993. More than twenty years later, on August 28, 2013, the last two remaining chimpanzees moved out of the CHCI.


CHCI promotes advocacy of chimpanzee conservation and the promotion of primate intellect. The sanctuary hosted public sessions, Chimposiums, which allowed the public to see the chimpanzees in action. For safety reasons, no one—visitors or staff—had physical contact with the chimpanzees.

Research opportunities

CHCI provides research opportunities for both undergraduates and graduates. When it housed the chimpanzees, many volunteered as docents or assistants within the center while others conducted research on primate behavior. Research projects which inconvenienced the chimpanzees in any way were not permitted; therefore, research was mostly observational.

See also


  1. ^ Demolished CWU building to help chimps in Pacific Northwest, Central Washington University News, February 1, 2018, retrieved July 21, 2020
  2. ^ "CWU Chimpanzee Dar Dies at 36". Central Washington University. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  3. ^ "CWU Chimpanzees Arrive Safely at Canadian Sanctuary". Central Washington University. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014.