While teaching American Sign Language at Central Washington University, Dr. Roger and Debbie Fouts came to the college. They installed a chimp laboratory in the psychology building and eventually an outdoor chimp enclosure. Washoe and other chimps became residents at Central’s facility.
I truly understand what the term “transformational experience” now means.
Being one of the few fluent signers in the community, I was able to come in and communicate with the chimps.
I was accepted by them because I knew their language. Exchanging ideas with chimps was a transformational experience.
Eventually, I gained enough trust to go in with the chimps, play games, have conversations, groom, and tease and play with them.
During that time, I was also able to meet Jane Goodall–another transformational experience.