This video shows the incredible skills of Kanzi, the talking bonobo. The instructor gives Kanzi a specific task to accomplish and he was able to accurately perform all of the tasks the woman asked of him. After watching the video of Kanzi the ape, one would probably be amazed at the tasks Kanzi was able to perform and begin to wonder whether animals are capable of understanding human language.
Two similarities between humans and bonobos are that they learn the language better when they are young and they learn by observing rather than reinforcement, which is used with other species such as dogs and parrots. Another big difference between the bonobos and other animals that have been trained in language is that bonobos use their knowledge to engage in social settings and not just to request food. All of these facts have had researchers wondering whether we may be able to teach our language to a species besides our own.
Although, even bonobos who have been trained their whole lives cannot seem to master the syntactic rules that are essential for human communication. The most advanced monkey can be compared to only a two-year-old on their ability to understand language.
By studying these apes, some may wonder if their abilities compare to those abilities of humans when they first began to conjure up language. Did we begin by simply allocating symbols and sounds to everyday objects? And, if these bonobos housed the same vocal tract as humans, could they too become a species with language? Sometimes research, such as with Kanzi, leads to further questions.