Chimp who learned sign language dies at 36

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Associated Press

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 6:40 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 28 at 12:32 PM

ELLENSBURG, Wash. (AP) — A Central Washington University spokeswoman says one of the CWU chimps who learned to use American Sign Language died recently of sudden cardiac failure.

Mary Lee Jensvold directs the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central. She says a post-mortem exam performed at the University of Washington Primate Center established the cause of death for the chimp named Dar, who died Nov. 24.

Jensvold says sudden cardiac failure is the most common cause of death in captive male chimpanzees. The average life span of that population is 30 years. Dar was 36.

Dar was one of a group of chimpanzees at the Ellensburg school that learned to use sign language.

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