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Author Talk – Dr. Anna Scarnà & Bob Ingersoll in conversation with Dr. Joyce Butler

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Join us on Thursday, June 15 at 6:00 p.m. for this hybrid Author Talk.  Dr Anna Scarnà and Bob Ingersoll will be in conversation with Dr. Joyce Butler about their book Primatology, Ethics and Trauma: The Oklahoma Chimpanzee Studies.


Primatology, Ethics and Trauma offers an analytical re-examination of the research conducted into the linguistic abilities of the Oklahoma chimpanzees, uncovering the historical reality of the research. It has been 50 years since the first language experiments on chimpanzees. Robert Ingersoll was one of the researchers from 1975 to 1983. He is well known for being one of the main carers and best friend of the chimpanzee, Nim Chimpsky, but there were other chimpanzees in the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Primate Studies, including Washoe, Moja, Kelly, Booee, and Onan, who were taught sign language in the quest to discover whether language is learned or innate in humans. Antonina Anna Scarnà’s expertise in language acquisition and neuroscience offers a vehicle for critical evaluation of those studies.

Ingersoll and Scarnà investigate how this research failed to address the emotional needs of the animals. Research into trauma has made scientific advances since those studies. It is time to consider the research from a different perspective, examining the neglect and cruelty that was inflicted on those animals in the name of psychological science. This book re-examines those cases, addressing directly the suffering and traumatic experiences endured by the captive chimpanzees, in particular the female chimpanzee, Washoe, and her resultant inability to be a competent mother.