I knew bonobos were smart, but on this trip I’ve been consistently surprised by just how smart. In reviewing one of the videos from my time in the nursery, I discovered something amazing. I had sensed a baby bonobo was playing with my shoe, but since at that point i had three bonobos on my head, I couldn’t really see what was going on.
Looking back at the video, I can see that one of the more impish young ones was untying my shoelaces (successfully, I might add, even though I’d triple-knotted them). But then, once finished, he didn’t try to remove my shoe. In stead, he took the laces in hand and proceeded to try to retie them. He didn’t get the knot just right, but when I came out my shoes had a loose cross knot in them. I’ll upload the video once I’m home and the connection is better.
The other amazing thing is one of the male bonobos from the adult enclosure, who has a favorite rock he likes to lie on in the afternoon, right in the middle of the river. Water bottles periodically blow into the enclosure from outside, and he had one in hand yesterday. Instead of drinking from the river, he preferred to fill the bottle and drink from that. It was funny to see a bonobo do that, in what otherwise looked like wild forest. But then, even more amazingly, he’d recap the bottle! He’d gone to the trouble of filling it, after all, and didn’t want the remains to spill out.
It’s not a feat of intelligence, but the award for the cutest so far goes to Ombwe, a two year-old who loves to get a big handful of dirt, sprinkle it liberally over his body, and lick it up. He made up a new variation when we were hanging out this morning–he’d get a handful of dirt and then release it into my pants pocket. He also loves to have his mouth blown on, which makes him pucker his lips and make kissy kissy sounds.