Title: Project Nim | Posted on 2014 03 27 in Blog

Monkey Business

It's difficult not to be fascinated by the many physical, cultural and social connections between apes and humans.

So when I stumbled across a story about an intimate relationship between a bonobo and a scientist, it just had to be shared.

It's the story of Kanzi the bonobo. Kanzi was born as a bonobo and raised as a human in the United States. He has been part of a broader research project into apes and their ability to communicate wih humans. Kanzi understands about 600 words and those that work with him say he can even speak some words in English. But when scientist and handler Bill doesn't do what Kanzi asks, he escapes, finds Bill and bites his hand.

Here's the link to the audio story: 

This story also reminded me of a fantastic doucmentary Project Nim, which screened at the Sydney Film Festival in 2011. Well worth checking out.

Both the story of Kanzi and Nim break open discussion about the desire to "humanise" apes, such as raising them like children and teaching them to communicate through sign systems. It also reveals intimate, special relationships that soften and melt the heart and soul while also raising significant alarms when sharps bursts of primal violence cause severe injury.