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Born November 17, 1985
United States
Died November 6, 2012 (aged 26)
Children Nyota and Nathen (died May 15, 2009)
Relatives Matata (mother)
Kanzi (half- brother)

Panbanisha (November 17, 1985 – November 6, 2012),[1] also known by the lexigram LexigramPanbanisha-sm.jpg, was a female bonobo that featured in studies on great ape language by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh. Panbanisha was the daughter of Matata, the adopted mother of the famous Kanzi, and was the mother of two sons, Nyota and Nathen. She lived at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa. Panbanisha died of a respiratory disease at the Great Ape Trust on November 6, 2012. She was 26.[1]


The basis of the early research, headed by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a US anthropologist, was to study the language faculties of non-human primates and find out to what extent their upbringing affects their ability to use language. Savage-Rumbaugh co-reared Panbanisha with a common chimpanzee, "Panpanzee" or "Panzee" for five years in an environment with other bonobos and with human teachers.[2] The teachers used keyboards with lexigrams on them in tandem with spoken communication in order to allow the two apes to communicate back to them, and to allow them to learn to comprehend spoken and symbolic language.[3] Of the two, Panbanisha showed greater linguistic capability, and was able to comprehend far more spoken language and lexigrams than her counterpart, Panzee. After the five years of study Panzee was removed from the study. Panzee lives at the Language Research Center at Georgia State University. Data was taken on Panbanisha for a further six years with her adopted half brother Kanzi.[2]

The keyboards now in use contain a few hundred symbols, and the linguistic capability of these two is quite good.[3] They are able to recognise not only digitised and spoken speech, but also the use of solely lexigrams from the keyboard. The researchers claim that the experiments with these apes show that the gap between the genus Pan and our early hominid ancestors, and even ourselves, is much smaller than we had previously realised.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Remembering Panbanisha". November 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Watanabe, Shigeru (2012). Watanabe, S.; Kuczaj, S., eds. Emotions of Animals and Humans: Comparative Perspectives. Springer. pp. 117–118. ISBN 9784431541233. 
  3. ^ a b Savage-Rumbaugh, S., and Lewin, R. (1994) The Ape At The Brink of The Human Mind, John Wiley and Sons, Toronto. ISBN 0-471-15959-X

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