Iowa apes to name swans
The Great Ape Trust in Iowa, which is home to eight bonobo apes, is about to get two Trumpeter Swans in a nearby pond. This on its own is not a huge deal, but the fact that the apes get to name the swans definitely is. The birds were placed in the pond to help encourage them to mate; Trumpeter Swans nearly went extinct in the 1800s due to a demand for their feathers.
Anyone want to join a naming pool? I'm going for Frank and Sheila, myself.
Bonobos walk on two legs and are the most humanlike in appearance of the great apes. They have sophisticated language skills, a trait they'll demonstrate when asked to name the swans.
Swartz said they'll either use a board that has symbols the apes associate with objects or choose names from a list researchers provide. The apes already use the board to communicate with humans to identify things like location, food and color.
Swartz said after observing the swans, the bonobos could pick a name that they think reflects the birds' behavior. They'll also get photos of the swans to carry around. She said the apes can recognize gender, with the help of a tag collar around the male swan's neck.