Matata

Name: Matata
Birthday: 1970 (wild born)
Favorite food: Bananas
Favorite game: Grooming
Favorite toy: Blanket

The matriarch and uncontested dominant member of Great Ape Trust’s bonobo group, Matata, was one of five bonobos brought to the Yerkes Research Center in 1975 as part of an effort, funded by the National Academy of Sciences, to establish a bonobo research station in the Congo.

At puberty, Matata was placed in a social group of bonobos at the Yerkes field station. One year later in 1980, Matata adopted Kanzi from his natural mother and proceeded to raise him as her own son. Matata and Kanzi came to Georgia State’s Language Research Center in 1980.

Over five years of effort have been invested in attempting to inculcate some degree of lexical skill in Matata. This effort has resulted in partial competency with six food names. However, it appears that her early experience in the field has resulted in eye gaze patterns that are distinctly different from those of her offspring. She checks her surrounding, so frequently that her eyes move away from any task at hand.

In addition to the studies in lexical learning, Matata participates in studies of puzzle solving, spatial planning, sorting and investigations of memory.