Kanzi, the world’s most famous bonobo, turns 40

The world’s most famous bonobo turned 40 on Wednesday.

Kanzi, who resides at a research center in southeastern Des Moines, can use abstract symbols to communicate with people, and understands some spoken words. Scientists who study these things have written books suggesting Kanzi is better at this than any other bonobo.

He has jammed on piano separately withPeter Gabrieland Paul McCartney, interacted with CNN’sAnderson Cooper andappeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”He has been featured by National Geographic and theSmithsonian Institution.

Bonobos are closely related to chimpanzees and are found in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. They are among humans’ closest relatives, genetically speaking.

Seven bonobos reside at theApe Initiative, the nonprofit Des Moines research and conservation center. Ape Initiative took over after Great Ape Trust founder Ted Townsend decided to gradually remove his financing for the project, which was intended to raise its own money with research grants.

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