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9 of the smartest animals on Earth

close-up of adult, young bonobo

Photo: ZUMA Press

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Bonobos

The bonobo is a close cousin to the chimpanzee, another famously intelligent animal. Extremely endangered, the bonobo is found only in central Africa. Like other great apes, bonobos have been taught to use sign language and symbols. National Geographic writes of “the bonobo Kanzi, for instance, [who] carries his symbol-communication board with him so he can talk to his human researchers, and he has invented combinations of symbols to express his thoughts.”