Thursday, October 7, 2010
Smartest monkey - Kanzi the 'talking' Ape sets world record
DES MOINES, Iowa, USA--A 29-year-old bonobo,
Kanzi lives at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa where expert Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh has been teaching him to 'speak' by pointing at symbols on a computer; Kanzi is believed to understand around 450 words – 30 to 40 of which he uses on a daily basis
- setting the new world record for the Smartest monkey.
Photo: Kanzi, The World's Smartest Monkey, can 'talk' with humans by pointing at symbols on a computer.
He speaks by pressing a symbol on the computer which then repeats the word out loud. Dr Savage-Rumbaugh says that he is even able to put together two-word sentences and shows remarkable invention when creating new phrases.
According to Dr. Sue, Kanzi knows "several thousand" words, giving him the same vocabulary level as a human toddler.
Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh says she taught Kanzi to communicate the same way she taught her son to speak. 'I just talk to Kanzi like you see me talking now,' she said.
'He just was around me and learned it like a child.' Photo: Kanzi is also able to blow up a balloon, demonstrating that he has control over his own breath, something that it was previously believed that only humans were able to do.
Kanzi has been the subject of a book as well as features in National Geographic and Time magazines. He became famous after becoming the first ape to learn language naturalistically rather than being trained by following what his mother was doing. The first ape to be able to show that he truly understands spoken English, Kanzi is also adept at stone toolmaking, helping scientists to better understand levels of skill in our early prehistoric ancestors.
Kanzi recently sat down with Oprah reporter Lisa Ling for an interview. The segment is scheduled to be featured on Monday's program.The feature is called Ultimate Amazing Animals: The Ape Who Has Conversations With Humans.
The "Oprah" segment examines Kanzi's ability to communicate using abstract symbols called lexigrams. He also understands some spoken English and held separate music jams with Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel when he lived in Georgia.
Over the past two months, the trust's work has shown up in TIME magazine, USA Today, CNN and PBS. A novel based in part on the research center, Ape House by best-selling author Sara Gruen, came out in September.
The 2011 Guinness World Records book shows that a monkey called Colo is the world's oldest gorilla at 53 years old. She lives at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.