Kanzi, a great ape renowned for his intelligence, demonstrated his fire-building and marshmallow-toasting skills on camera for a new Animal Planet show, "Primates: Clash of Kingdoms." His deliberation and dexterity may surprise even bonobo lovers — Planet of the Apes, anyone?
In the video, a clip from the final episode of which first appeared in a BBC documentary on primates, Kanzi the bonobo collects a pile of dry brush, lights it with a match, and roasts a few skewered marshmallows to — well, it's not quite a golden brown, but he doesn't seem to mind.
Kanzi's performance sparked awe on social media. "Every good psychology student knows who Kanzi is, but I didn't know he could toast marshmallows!" one viewer tweeted after seeing the show. Others expressed skepticism, suggesting only a human in a bonobo suit could accomplish the task.
"Master Minds," the episode that aired Wednesday, focuses on how primates have a wide range of sophisticated behaviors. Ugandan chimpanzees pass knowledge to the next generation, for instance, and macaques floss their teeth (a skill many humans have yet to master).
It's not Kanzi's first time in the spotlight. This famously intelligent animal is proficient in expressing himself using icon-like symbols, can do so using a smartphone or other computer interfaces, and shows remarkable empathy for his human handlers, understanding their spoken language quite well.
The next generation is looking to be just as smart, too: Teco, fathered by Kanzi, is being observed closely and shows a similar positive predisposition towards language and complex tasks. And yes, like other young folks these days, he's a "digital native."
If you're in the U.K., you can watch "Monkey Planet" online using iPlayer. The rest of you will have to wait for the show to appear on Animal Planet, or content yourselves with the YouTube clips.
First published April 16 2014, 3:32 PM