Two famed sign-language chimps headed to Fauna!

I’ve been speaking about The Chimps to book clubs, library groups, literary types and animal lovers for more than two years now, and every time I do someone asks: “Can Gloria accept any more chimpanzees into her sanctuary?” My answer has always been the same: “No. Quebec Agriculture laws forbid it.”

Until now.



Plans are now underway to move two of the most famous chimps in America to the Fauna Foundation. Tatu (37) and Loulis (35) are the last surviving members of a very special group of chimps who in the 1970s became the first non-human primates to learn American Sign Language.

This group included Moja, Dar and the charismatic Washoe, arguably the most famous chimp in scientific history. Since the early 1980s, the five had lived at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University. Sadly, over the last ten years Moja, Dar and Washoe have passed away from natural causes, leaving Tatu and Loulis rather lonely.

As we all know by now, chimps need companionship to survive. And what better place for Tatu and Loulis to make new friends than at Fauna? The chimps will be leaving CHCI for good to live out the rest of their retirement with Binky, Regis, Jethro, Chance and everyone else on the farm in Quebec.



Gloria and her team are currently navigating a labyrinth of paperwork and permitting issues (there is, of course, that pesky Quebec Agriculture law to contend with). No specific timeline for the chimps’ arrival has been made public. But preparations, if only psychological at this point, are well underway. I will make sure to update this blog with news of the new arrivals as it becomes available.


CHCI was founded by pioneering primatologists Roger and Deborah Fouts, who conducted the first studies into sign language and chimpanzees. To read more about the Fouts’ scientific odyssey with the chimps, look no further than Roger’s remarkable book, Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees.

As you might imagine, accepting new chimpanzees is a challenging and expensive undertaking. If you’ve been thinking of donating to Fauna but haven’t yet, now would be the perfect time. Here’s how.


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3 Responses to Two famed sign-language chimps headed to Fauna!

  1. Cindy Ouellette says:

    This is truly wonderful news Andrew!

  2. James Loewen says:

    This is wonderful news! I look forward to hearing more about this as this story unfolds. Thank you to all who work so hard to provide these magnificent chimpanzees with a good life.

  3. Nathalie L. says:

    I am so glad to hear that they will join a new family even if in itself, this will be a difficult change for Loulis & Tatu – hoping the Fouts will visit these little darlings regularly. Just finished reading your book – which I have stared at for months before gathering the emotional courage to finally pick it up and read it. Could not put it down, cried a river, still have haunting images before me that wake me up at night… So many passages you wrote I was thinking, that is it, those are words to describe this; all I had were waves of intense physical pain and emotional torment reading through your wonderful novel and then again, hope… Cruelty is not a strong enough word to describe experiments that as you say so well, your gut already knows the outcome. I qualify them as sadistic. I did feel strong love, endless compassion and empathy for these wonderful individuals I have never met. Thanks much for introducing me to Gloria and team, to all those beautiful and intense chimps and above all, thank you kindly for your sensitive dedication to Tommie… May they all rest in peace and may their turmoil, hurt and pain be dissolved upon their passage into the spirit world, they are all very very special… I wish this would have never happened to them…

    Thank you Andrew for this very meaningful book – hopefully the 2% will grow and grow and this dark era will be thing of the past one day.


    Nathalie L.

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