Today I am going to write about school projects on apes that you can do and then I will show you the speech I did on Kanzi, the bonobo in Iowa.
First, whenever you get to choose a topic for a project you can usually find something related to Apes:
For example, if you have something to do for history, you could write about Dian Fossey.
If you have something to do for geography, you could write about Africa and how ecosytstems function and are being destroyed.
If you have something to do for media, you can do "apes in entertainment" (see previous blog).
If you have something to do in Math....you probably wouldn't think you could but ....You could do charts or graphs and you can look at show how ape populations are changing! I did a Venn Diagram to show the differences and similarities of chimpanzees and bonobos.
Also whenever I have to do a speech, I do something on apes or the environment.
My science teacher likes the science projects I do because I talk about things not everyone knows about. Last year, I did my project on "coltan". Coltan is a mineral found in the Democratic Republic of Congo used in computers and cell phones and is sometimes illegally mined. The mining destroys the habitats of gorillas and bonobos and leads to hunting for bushmeat. We must make sure illegal and unsafe mining is stopped.
This year I am doing my project on palm oil. Most people think that using palm oil is a good ecofriendly alternative to fossil fuels. BUT to produce it the habitats of many creatures including orangutans and Sumatran tigers are being destroyed. Both could be extinct in the wild if we do not change our attitudes! Palm oil is also used in many foods and we should encourage all companies that make palm oil products to either change their ingredients or only use palm oil that comes from environmentally safe places....not from Orangutan habitats!
Please help save this little guy and all his relatives
Here is my speech
Mme. Fraser, Ladies and Gentlemen
When my friend was little, he was often a trouble maker. He would throw violent temper tantrums and he would try to trick people when he did not get his own way. Nobody would have guessed that he would grow up to be featured in dozens of magazines and would become a musician and play with Paul McCartney. My friend is also a painter whose paintings have sold for 1000’s of dollars. My friend’s name is Kanzi. Kanzi is a bonobo.
Bonobos as you may know are great apes who are closely related to chimpanzees. As famous as Kanzi is for his achievements as an artist what he is most known for are his remarkable language abilities. He can understand spoken English and can communicate using lexigrams, which are abstract symbols that represent words.
It is interesting how Kanzi first acquired language. When he was a baby at
Dr. Sue Savage Rumbaugh began working closely with Kanzi. Kanzi learned more and more symbols and started combining them to tell people what he wanted and how he felt. Because bonobo vocal cords are not like humans’ he is not able to actually speak but he can tell us a great deal through gestures and lexigrams. Kanzi now understands hundreds of symbols and uses them in sentences.
Kanzi is also famous for makng tools. People used to think that only humans could make and use tools but Kanzi sharpens rocks into knifes to open boxes to get food out of them. One story about him and his sister Panbanisha shows that Kanzi can think in ways that most animals can’t demonstrate. Having a “theory of mind” means being able to think from the view of another person. Some scientists believed only humans could have a theory of mind. One day Kanzi and Panbanisha were each trying to make tools to open a box of food. Kanzi was able to do it but Panbanisha couldn’t make a sharp enough stone. Kanzi tried to help Panbanisha but the scientists would not allow him to so they decided to take Kanzi away. Kanzi hid a stone that he had used where Panbanisha could easily find it and use it. This shows that he is considerate and could think from Panbanisha’s pont of view. Now he lives in
I first heard about Kanzi from a book of animal facts that said “a bonobo named Kanzi had learned to light a barbecue and cook his own food”. I thought that was interesting so I emailed Dr. Sue. She suggested making a video for the bonobos to explain who I am and show them what I do. I have sent several videos and I have been able to visit Kanzi and his family twice. Before my last visit I had sent a video in which I showed Kanzi a ball and asked him if he wanted it. He told the caretaker Judy he did want it so she emailed and told me. A month later, I visited with a group of people who were doing a tour of the Great Ape Trust. Before we went into the bonobo house we were told to go in very quietly because bonobos can be shy. Kanzi knew I was visiting that day and when we were all sitting down, he came out and he looked around the whole crowd and then when he saw me, he went right over to his lexigram board and typed “Ball Ball Ball” because he remembered that I promised to bring one to him. Luckily, I remembered too.
Bonobos are extremely endangered and need our help. I hope from my stories about Kanzi you can understand that bonobos are incredible creatures and that we should protect them. Kanzi once painted a flag for “ape nation” because he knows that apes are threatened and he would want you to do all you can to respect and protect apes.
Thanks for reading my blog today. Please post if you have any comments or advice.