Friday, August 31, 2007

Ape Names Swans At Des Moines Research Center

ape names swansAn ape in central Iowa is showing researchers just how smart primates can be.

Panbanisha, a bonobo at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, has given names to two trumpeter swans nesting at the center. It's an achievement researchers say shows how important collaboration is to learning.

The ape trust focuses on helping primates communicate through computers and symbols.

The latest project began in the spring when the swans were released on the trust's lake. It took months of work to motivate Panbanisha to name the birds.

Researchers made references to the swans while communicating with the bonobo -- showing the ape they were interested in giving them names. They displayed pictures of the swans, played videos of them and took Panbanisha on a walk to find them.

Abstract symbols were developed to help the bonobo distinguish between the three male and female names under final consideration.

And finally this month, Panbanisha made her choices: Morgan and Olivia.

Story here.

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