Baby Teco Source: Great Ape Trust
I took care of Elikya when I was in charge of the Psuke Building at the Language Research Center. Elikya, her mother Matata, and brother Maisha are 'control subjects' or non-language bonobos so that comparisons can be made between them and bonobos raised in a language-rich environment where the lexigram keyboards are used. At the time Elikya was only 3 or 4 years old.
I remember one time when I was feeding everyone strawberries. I only had one huge strawberry for each bonobo, and Kanzi stole Elikya's. After everyone had gone outside, I noticed that Elikya had come back inside the building by herself. I hurried to give her a treat that no one else got, and hoped she understood that I was trying to make up for Kanzi taking her strawberry.
There must be something about pulling hair with bonobo youngsters, because like Nyota (see Pensive Panbanisha post) Elikya was also a hair puller. There was one place behind the Psuke building where you either had to duck under a tunnel or go all the way around the building to get to the other side of the play yard. Whenever I ducked under that tunnel, somehow Elikya was always there ready to give my hair a yank. Maybe showing bravery every time the young ones were able to grab somebody's hair is something like Native Americans 'counting coup'. Most probably though they do it just to see if they can get a rise out you. That's big with bonobos.
When I first started taking care of Kanzi and Panbanisha, they would take a mouthful of water and spit it at me. We were told to simply ignore them which I did for a few days, but then the practice started to get really old. So one day I tried reverse psychology. Knowing they could understand what I said, after the umpteeth time of Kanzi spitting on me, I said, 'Gee, thanks Kanzi. I was really hot and that felt good.' I don't think he ever did it again!
Elikya is now 13 years old and also a first-time mom.
Elikya Source: Great Ape Trust
For a video of Kanzi playing with his son, click here. The voice in the background on the video is Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh. Notice how gentle Kanzi is with little baby Teco.