Chantek is a twenty-two year old male orangutan who was enculturated and taught to use sign language by anthropologist Dr. H. Lyn Miles. Join the Chantek Foundation and help support research with Chantek as well as create a new Primate Cultural Center for enculturated ape persons, like Chantek.
"My passionate and life-long committment is to see Chantek and other enculturated apes as persons living in culture-bearing communities, with agency and choice." H. Lyn Miles
Dr. H. Lyn Miles is a biocultural anthropologist interested in the evolution of human symbol systems, how cutural processes interact with language and evolution, and what orangutans can tell use about language and intelligence. Through her experience as a scientific researcher as well as Chantek’s cross-foster mother, she is convinced of the personhood of enculturated apes and seeks to find them legal protection. She has also conducted preliminary field research with orangutans in Borneo at the Wanariset Research Center, and in the Meratus Forest. Her research is featured in the PBS NOVA program “Signs of the Apes, Songs of the Whales,” and in the Animal Planet production “They Call Him Chantek.”
The mission of the Chantek Foundation is to support cultural research with Chantek, to understand the nature of orangutan communicative ability and intelligence, to foster the development of orangutan and other great ape persons in a Primate Cultural Center, to promote orangutan conservation through awareness of Chantek’s abilities, and to develop creative education about building a bridge between our species.
Specific goals of the Chantek Foundation
Communication - To create a communication bridge to the orangutan mind by supporting language and enculturation research with Chantek, and other enculturated ape beings in his cultural community
Cognition - To understand orangutan mental abilities and the evolution of a symbolic capacity in human and nonhuman primates
Imagine communicating with a nonhuman intelligence . .
Anthropologist Dr. H. Lyn Miles did. She created Project Chantek, a twenty-year scientific research effort to teach sign language and human culture to Chantek, a male orangutan. Unique among ape studies, she emphasized the development of cultural models and processes in Chantek’s upbringing, wanting to know not only what was in the mind of an orangutan, but also how human symbol systems may have evolved.