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#Animal Language

# animal-language - Saturday 14 August, 2010

KANZI THE BONOBO has fascinated humans after learning to understand English and to communicate his thoughts and feelings through pointing to a choice of hundreds upon hundreds of symbols.

Born in 1980, Kanzi has spend his life learning language with primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a lead scientist at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa. Kanzi can understand Rumbagh when she speaks but – because it is physically impossible for a primate – he cannot speak back.

Instead, Kanzi can communicate by pointing to various symbols on lexigram keyboards.

Savage-Rumbaugh believes that all it takes for an ape to acquire an understanding of language is spoken language,  repetition, non-verbal cues and attention-directing manuevuers – the same way that we speak to human children.

Watch Kanzi interact with Savage-Rumbaugh as she speaks novel sentences to him – note Kanzi would not able to lip read, as Savage-Rumbaugh’s face is covered, and so must rely only on hearing the language.

In the video below, watch Kanzi communicate through his lexigram keyboards.

Check out Kanzi’s friend, Panbanisha, another Bonobo that seems can communicate: