Signing and Understanding

Signing And Understanding

It’s amazing when I see anyone signing. I think it’s a cool language. It’s even cooler when I see a non-human primate signing. I know that they don’t sign in the wild, but the fact that they are capable of learning a human language is neat. Not only can they learn sign language but they can understand what we are saying and sign it back to us. I love being able to communicate with the chimps at Chimp Inc. The ones that have used this skill that I have seen are Patti and Herbie.

It’s so cool watching Patti interact with the caregivers, volunteers, and interns. She will let us know when she wants something. Usually it involves eating or drinking. She will use that sign a lot to let everyone know. She will also point if what’s she wants to eat is around her. It’s also really entertaining to try to figure out what she wants exactly. Now Herbie on the other hand is a little more special because he can understand me when I talked to him and that is a really awesome feeling to have. If I’m in the chimp house alone and Herbie is making noise, once he quiets down I will ask him if he is a good boy and he will sign it back to me. I get really excited when that happens. I know he does it with the caregivers, but knowing that, as an intern, I can’t give him anything, the fact that he will still do it makes me feel really connected with him.

I’m surprised everyday how smart these chimps are. I’m so happy that there is a way for them to communicate with us and us with them. Knowing that these animals can sign makes me want to learn sign language.


Deborah S., Intern