Sarah (chimpanzee)

Sarah (full name Sarah Anne) (August ?, 1959 – July 29/?, 2019)[1] was an enculturated research chimpanzee whose cognitive skills were documented in the 1983 book The Mind of an Ape, by David Premack and Ann James Premack.[2] Sarah was one of nine chimpanzees in David Premack's psychology laboratory in Pennsylvania. Sarah was born in Africa in 1959. She first worked in Missouri, then in Santa Barbara, and then Pennsylvania. She first was exposed to language token training in 1967.

Sarah was the subject, along with three other chimpanzees which were exposed to language token training. One of the chimpanzees failed to learn a single word, but Sarah, Elizabeth, and Peony were able to parse and also produce streams of tokens which obeyed a grammar.

She used a special board with plastic symbols to correctly parse various syntactic expressions including if-then-else.

When the Premacks decided they no longer wanted to work with chimpanzees in 1987, Sarah was sent to Sarah Boysen's Chimp Center at the Ohio State University, where she lived and worked with other enculturated chimpanzees: Kermit, Darrell, Bobby, Sheba, Keeli, Ivy, Harper, and Emma. In February 2006, the Chimp Center was closed and OSU sent the chimps to a private animal collection in Texas, and subsequently transferred to another chimpanzee sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Louisiana, where she was well-known for her blanket nesting techniques.[1] Her favorite treat was M&M's.[3]

Sarah died in July, 2019, just before her 60th birthday.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c "Remembering Sarah Anne". Chimp Haven Blog. July 29, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  2. ^ Premack, David and Premack, Ann James. The Mind of an Ape. ISBN 0-393-01581-5.
  3. ^ a b Gruen, Lori (August 9, 2019). "The World's Smartest Chimp Has Died". New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.

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