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Nim Chimpsky

Sign-Language Chimp

Born: 21 November 1973
Died: 23 March 2000 (heart attack)
Birthplace: Norman, Oklahoma
Best known as: Language-learning chimp with a funny name
The chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky was the subject of a landmark experiment in teaching sign language to apes. Named in a humorous salute to language theorist Noam Chomsky, Nim was raised in a human-like setting and taught sign language as if he were a human child. Nim learned to use basic signs but, it was generally agreed, did not develop complex language skills. (Other famous language-learning apes include Koko the gorilla and Washoe the chimp.) Nim was later sold to a medical lab to be the subject of experiments, but through the intervention of activist Cleveland Amory he was instead sent to retirement at a Texas wildlife sanctuary.
Extra credit: Nim Chimpsky is also the name of a popular Welsh band.

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More on Nim Chimpsky from Infoplease:

  • Nim Chimpsky - Biography of Nim Chimpsky, Language-learning chimp with a funny name
  • Noam Chomsky - Biography of Noam Chomsky, Creator of the theory of generative grammar
  • Koko - Biography of Koko, The gorilla who "talks" with humans
  • Washoe - Biography of Washoe, Chimp who learned sign language
  • Selected Biographies: C - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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