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am 23. August 1998
Words will never express the impact this book will have on its readers. Anyone who cares, even remotely, about animals and about our stewardship regarding them will find in it all the arguments needed to be a convincing and impassioned advocate for the wellbeing of our fellow species.
Not all animals can communicate to the level that our nearest of kin can, but all of them suffer similarly when treated with anything less than compassion and concern.
I think Fouts should receive a Nobel Peace Prize. He has truly "captured" the chimpanzee as no one else has (with the exception of Jane Goodall). Instead of a Nobel, he has received the condemnation of those scientists with a vested interest in maintaining the "status quo" in research facilities, so that "their" chimpanzees are "safe" from Fouts' liberating ideas and will never receive the quality of life that is available to them in captivity when people care enough to respond with kindness and civility.
This is a landmark book. I can't recommend it highly enough. I applaud all those involved in its creation, and hope it will create the ripple in the water that will turn to a tidal wave of reaction and CAUSE the reforms so desperately needed where captive animals -- and their counterparts in the wild -- are concerned.
If you read it, you will never be the same.
11 Kommentar| 2 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 10. April 1999
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I could hardly put it down. It is the autobiographical story of a graduate student who wanted to be a clinical psychologist working with children, but who didn't have either the grades or the money to get into a first-tier Ph.D. program. His advisor suggested that he apply to the University of Nevada, where he was admitted to the department of experimental psychology, a far cry from clinical. For money, they offered him a half-time assistantship, working for Allen and Beatrix Gardner, researchers who were trying to teach a chimpanzee to talk. His interview with Allen Gardner did not go well and he was sure he wasn't going to get the job, but after the interview ended he was asked if he would like to see the chimp.
"As we approached the fenced-in nursery school, I saw two adults playing with a child in the shade of a tree. At least I thought it was a child. When the child saw us coming she leapt up and began hooting. Then she began sprinting in our direction--on all fours. We were only a few yards from the four-foot-high fence now. Washoe continued to speed toward us and, without breaking stride, vaulted over the fence and sprang from the top rail. What happened next amazes me to this day. Washoe did not jump onto Allen Gardner as I had expected. She leapt into my arms."
He got the job. He didn't know anything about chimpanzees, especially about changing diapers on an infant chimp, and he didn't know anything about American Sign Language, but he learned fast. For the next several years he was part of a project to teach ASL to Washoe and to demonstrate that a nonhuman animal could learn a natural, human language. They didn't treat Washoe the way animals are usually treated by researchers. They raised her in a human family situation and treated her as a human child. They spoke no English in her presence--only ASL. They wanted to see if she would learn it the way a child learns language. She did, and in the process challenged the almost unanimous conceptions of scientists, linguists and philosophers about the uniqueness of language in humans.
The Washoe project came to an end about the same time as Fouts was finishing his dissertation. The Gardners had arranged to send Washoe to the Institute for Primate Studies in Oklahoma. They asked Fouts to go along to take care of her. So for the second time he had Washoe to thank for getting him a job. But the situation in Oklahoma was not a happy one. For the first time in his life Fouts was introduced to the cruel conditions to which animals are routinely subjected in animal research and he found himself in the situation of protector of Washoe who he had always treated as a human child. Unfortunately, he was a young, inexperienced Ph.D. up against a powerful professor with a wide reputation. For the next 10 years or so he would have to use all his wits to survive and to protect the chimps under his care. He wasn't always able to succeed.
While in Oklahoma, Fouts came in contact with an autistic child and his work with Washoe led him to a remarkable discovery. He realized that the child might not be able to coordinate his auditory experience with his visual experience and that might be why he couldn't communicate with others. So Fouts tried teaching sign language to the autistic child and in a couple of months the child was communicating with others for the first time in his life. His behavior also changed. He stopped screaming and rocking and started making eye contact with people. More remarkably, a few weeks after he started learning ASL, he started to speak in English. This led Fouts to begin theorizing about the origins of language, which is discussed at some length in this book.
The situation in Oklahoma got worse and worse for the chimpanzees and Fouts began seeking an escape. Eventually he found a sanctuary in Central Washington University and built a home for Washoe and other chimps there--the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where the chimps live free from human domination. Graduate students who work with them can do so only if the chimps agree. (Remember, I am talking about talking chimpanzees here!) Fouts says that sometimes a graduate student will complain that he can't get the chimps to cooperate in a study and Fouts just says "Too bad. Think up a study that's more fun."
As you might have guessed, Fouts became an animal rights activist. To him, his wife and his children, who grew up with Washoe, Washoe has always been considered a person. He says "Of all the people who visit Washoe's family, deaf children are the first to recognize the chimpanzee as our next of kin. To see a deaf child, who struggles daily to be understood by fellow humans, talking animatedly in sign with a chimpanzee is to recognize the absurdity of the age-old distinction between 'thinking human' and 'dumb animal'. When deaf children look at Washoe, they don't see an animal. They see a person. It is my fondest hope that, one day, every scientist will see as clearly."
Teaching a chimp to use a natural language, bringing an autistic child out of his isolation, and fighting for animal rights are not Fouts only remarkable achievements. He also demonstrated that an animal who used ASL would also teach it to her child. Washoe taught Loulis to speak.
I remember first hearing about Washoe back in the early 70s, I think, but reading a popular science magazine article about her is nothing like reading this first hand account. As the introduction by Jane Goodall says, this book "has all the elements of a truly great novel--adventure, heartbreak, the stuggle against evil, courage, and, of course, love."
0Kommentar| Eine Person fand diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 30. Oktober 1998
Roger Fouts presents his heart-warming story of his involvement in the study of chimpanzees and their ability to communicate with humans through the use of sign language. Roger has been involved in this study for over 30 years since he was a graduate student working for the Gardeners, a husband/wife research team who had the idea to raise chimps like human children and to use signs with them.
We soon learn that the chimps quickly acquire many signs and that they can use the signs in inventive ways. According to Fouts, chimps can actually create spontaneous sentences using signs. This means that humans are not the only animals who think and use language.
After reading this book, you will change your mind about animals and you will see that animal experimentation is horrid and uncalled for. To think that there are sentient beings living for years in small cages in order to participate in experiments that ultimately lead to their deaths is unnerving. If this book inspires a few people to actively become involved in helping to free primates and other animals from cruel captivity, it will be wonderful. The book also makes us realize that we are not too far removed from chimps genetically.
Roger Fouts should be rewarded for his pioneering work with chimps. The chimps should be rewarded by humans treating them humanely.
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am 16. August 1999
I have just finished to read this book. I loved it! Together with Diane Fossey's "Gorillas in the mist", this is one of my bests. The descriptions of the way the chimps are carried on in laboratories broke my heart. I was surprised and would never imagine so terrible cruelty against these people who think, have feelings and social relations almost exactly as ours. It's a shame for all humanity that just the scientists, who should understand more than anybody else that these animals are our kins, do something so dreadful. And I began to ask myself: when will humankind finally understand that we are not the owners of our planet? When understand that this little place where we live was not done for us? That we have no right to explore and destroy the other animals? This book show our role in the Earth. We should begin to respect and support life in our planet.
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am 13. März 1999
Several books have influenced my way of thinking on a day to day basis. Reading this book (in hardcover) has influenced me into animal activism. I cried at the injustices brought out in this book, and realized my inactivity was a stamp of approval for the irresponsible and inhumane treatment of animals that Dr. Fouts has pointed out. I have fortunately never witnessed these horrible abuses first-hand like he has. (If I had, would I be able to sleep?)
He does a beautiful job of creating our connection with chimps and other creatures, and I thank him for that.
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am 4. Dezember 1998
I am a freshman at Central Washington University and for my first quarter classes I had psych 101 with Dr. Fouts. Dr. Fouts suggested to us to read his book and I decided to. Boy am I glad i did. This is definetly in my top five favorite books of all time. It's an epic and breathtaking book that I am so glad I had the opportunity to read and talk with Dr. Fouts about it. I tell all my friends and family to read it and I hope others do too. I have never read a book that opened my eyes quite like this one. I wish Dr. Fouts, Washoe, and the rest of the chimps my best of luck.
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am 15. März 1999
I read this book in a day, though I didn't plan to--as soon as I began reading, I found myself unable to put it down. This is the story of both Dr. Fouts' study of chimpanzee language abilities, and his struggle to find a home for the chimps where they will be treated with the respect they deserve. Engagingly written and humanely told, his story is a direct challange to the cruel legacy of Descartes, one that will change your view of our primate relatives forever. Frequently funny, oftentimes heartbreaking, this book will leave no reader unmoved and unchanged.
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am 28. Februar 1999
This book is a beautifully written insight into the true nature of the chimpanzee. Roger Fouts shows us that chimpanzees are individual personalities with very human characteristics. The fact that these chimpanzees have learned American Sign language (ASL)is only the beginning of the wonders this book details. From their sense of humor to the touching evidence that they feel fear, sadness and loneliness; this book has changed my life. Everyone must read this book!
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am 11. August 1999
I just finished reading this wonderful book. It realy toched me.It tought me so much about chimanzees and humanbeens our links and conection. It also made me so motivated to do something for these wonderful creaturs wellbeeing. I recomend it to anyone to read it. They will learn so much.Like I said its a gooldbook.
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am 20. Dezember 1998
I have never thougt that I could be interested in chimpanzees, but now I am.Fouts book is more than just a simple story. Take this book and you won`t stop reading.And after reading you surely will try to solve the chimpanzees problems.
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