Chimpanzee uses sign language, asks visitors to free him from enclosure in heartbreaking film
Posted by Xeno on August 7, 2012
Intelligent and inquisitive, chimpanzees have always been able to communicate with man.
But this heartbreaking video shows just how desperate this chimp is to be understood and to be let out of his cage.
The chimp is seen in the video motioning to a watching visitor to unlock the bolt on what appears to be a glass door and lift the window, so he can be free.
Tapping on the window the chimp repeatedly urges people standing on the other side of the glass to let them outside.
It links its fingers together, a signal similar to the American Sign Language representation of the word ‘gate’.
Alex Bailey from Manchester, who recorded the interaction at the Welsh Mountain Zoo, interprets the signs as a direction to free the chimp, The Telegraph reported.
One chuckling man taps on the window and copies the chimp’s actions, mimicking the animal’s mimes of opening the window.
A bystander can be heard giggling and saying: ‘He wants us to open it’.
But the chimpanzee is more focused on trying to make itself understood, as it longingly looks at the people in front of him.
The video, which lasts around 48 seconds, was filmed at the Welsh Mountain Zoo, according to The Telegraph.If it is communicating with sign language, it is not the first chimpanzee to do so.
Washoe was a female chimpanzee who was the first non-human to learn to communicate using American Sign Language. The animal, who died in 2007, learnt 350 words, and taught her adopted son Loulis.
Other chimpanzees were later taught 150 or more signs, which they were able to combine to form messages. Chimpanzees and humans share many similarities and they are believed to be our closest relative in the animal kingdom.
Peter Dickinson, a worker at Welsh Mountain Zoo, has written about using sign language with animals as part of their enrichment programme and has previously observed chimpanzees at the zoo trying to communicate with visitors.
“I have watched our animals sign to visitors, asking them to carry out certain behaviours. What is more the visitors react and do exactly what they are told,” he said.
“If a visitor is reproached by a member of staff the excuse is always “But the chimp asked me to do it!”.
You can see how the chimp decides fairly quickly that the human is too stupid to understand what he is saying.