Just what do you know about the Smartest Monkey in the World?

Going by the name Kanzi, the smartest monkey in the world is a thirty-four-year-old ape. He lives in the Great Ape Sanctuary just outside Des Moines, Iowa, USA. For years, psychologist Dr. Sue Savage-Raumbaugh has been teaching him how to speak using symbols on a computer screen.

But Kanzi is not the first Chimpanzee to show close-to-human intelligence. These animals have always had the capacity to utilize tools, express emotions, speak, and love. As such human have always been fascinated by these great animals.

  • Communicating

The smartest monkey in the world is a member of the pygmy family of chimpanzees known as the bonobos. It has been discovered that the DNA of the bonobos matches that of humans by 99 percent. But that doesn’t mean that all bonobos are that intelligent. That’s why apart from being the smartest monkey in the world, Kanzi is by far the smartest bonobo alive.

Kanzi has always lived in close proximity to humans and that’s how he has been able to pick up elements of our culture. As the smartest monkey in the world, Kanzi has picked up cooking, celebrating birthdays, and even communicating in our language.

  • Tapping the symbols

You may even argue that he’s smarter than most human babies. Of course, the human young ones who have to be taught everything. As for Kanzi, he picked up the skills he has largely by observing the actions of humans and other apes.

The smartest monkey in the world spends his day eating, reading, writing, and playing with toys. So far, he has accumulated a vocabulary of over 3,000 words and has the ability to participate in simple conversations.

That’s not to say that he can speak. However, Kanzi can communicate with at least 500 words using a special keyboard and can understand over 3,000 words. He has learned to get his message across by tapping the symbols on a keyboard or pointing them out on a laminated sheet of paper. To order for pizza, he orders to the symbols representing bread, cheese, and tomato.

  • The Legend of Tarzan

He has the ability to form full sentences using lexigrams – symbols representing words. These are used in place of objects like ‘shoe’ or ‘water’ and even actions such as ‘eat’ or ‘run’.

Of course, he is not the first ape to have learnt to communicate in a human language. Those who have come before him learnt through the teaching of their human minders. As for him, he is largely self-taught and can even verbalize a few words in English.

Did you know that the smartest monkey in the world can strike matches, make stone knives, and cook an omelet? What about playing the arcade game Pac Man and even go beyond the first round? Well, you are likely to see him gathering wood, making a pile out of it, and lighting a fire. As soon as the flames go up, he picks some twigs, asks for marshmallow using his keyboard, and goes on to roast it.

Did you know that Kanzi likes watching videos too? Well, he loves Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. Not surprising, is it?


  • Gaye

    creepy monkey pic

  • Rose

    Do you ever think that evolution could have gone much differently for us and monkeys would rule the world?

  • Loree

    I thought the smartest monkey in the world was a chimp named Natasha. Shows what I know!

  • Tayla

    Reminds me of the chimp in the book The Congo

    • smallanimalplanet

      Hi Tayla!
      Yes the chimp that convinced some PhD’s to take an dangerous expedition in the jungle.

      From wikipedia “Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh), a primatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and his assistant Richard (Grant Heslov) teach human communication to primates using a gorilla named Amy (voiced by Shayna Fox). With a special backpack and glove, her sign language is translated to a digitized voice. Despite the success, Peter is concerned that Amy is having nightmares and psychological problems, due to several drawings Amy has made of jungles and the Eye of Providence.”