Washoe was a wild reared female infant chimpanzee who was approximately 8-14 months old when she arrived at the Gardner's laboratory. They obtained a wild caught infant, as they were usually available for research younger than laboratory infants, who would be at least two years old when available. A chimpanzee was selected as an appropriate species as they are thought to be both highly intelligent and sociable animals.
During the first few months, the focus was on building a daily routine and relationships between Washoe and her several human 'companions' who cared for her in shifts. At first they feared that such frequent changes in carer would be disturbing for Washoe, but she seemed to adapt very well to this procedure.
During her waking hours Washoe was always with at least one of her companions. Her human companions were to be friends and playmates and they were to introduce games and activities that would be likely to result in maximum interaction with Washoe. Bonds of warm affection were easily established with Washoe and several of her companions.
From the start, Gardner and Gardner wanted to ensure that Washoe could firstly, ask for objects, but secondly ask questions of her companions. Gardner and Gardner wanted what could best be described as conversation. With this in mind they attempted to provide Washoe with an environment that might be conductive to this sort of behaviour. Confinement was to be minimal, about the same as that of human infants.
All of Washoe's companions were required…