Primates are one of the most studied of all mammals. These studies are known to provide great insights into the answers to human evolution. Kanzi, the male bonobo, is particularly famous for developing linguistic and other life skills that have led the humans through the many stages of evolution. It is an astonishing sight, indeed, to watch him make fires, cook and communicate intelligibly.
According to his handler, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Kanzi was quite enthusiastic about learning how to make a fire. When he was five, he would make small piles of sticks and would be just as immersed in making a fire as he would be while watching a film.
Omelets are Kanzi’s favorite. He loves to both cook them and eat them.
Though Kanzi hasn’t yet mastered everything about making a fire, he knows to protect himself by staying a little away from it. The researchers say he isn’t exposed to the environmental pressures of needing warmth because he has a warm bed to go to every night. So, he doesn’t entirely use or feel the need for fire the way early humans did.
Apart from his cooking skills, Kanzi also has a knack for making knives out of stones and even can play Pac-Man.
Kanzi showed much interest in learning and expressing himself through the lexigram the researchers designed originally meant for his adoptive mother, Matata. The lexigram contained around 400 symbols. He was also said to invent his own vocabulary by combining the symbols and even understand the point of view of others.
According to the researchers, the 35-year-old bonobo now possesses a vocabulary that is large enough for him to contribute to simple human conversations. Using the lexigram, he could now express at least 500 and can understand around 3,000 of them. In the picture below, Kanzi and his sister Panbanisha can be seen communicating with Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh.
And here is the video of Kanzi making a fire and enjoying his marshmallow.