A remarkable bonobo named Kanzi has become an internet sensation for his ability to play the popular game Minecraft. At 42 years old, Kanzi has impressed YouTuber Christopher “ChrisDaCow” Slayton with his gaming skills. But Kanzi’s gaming talents aren’t just for fun; they are being used to raise awareness for endangered species.

Kanzi is a resident of the Ape Initiative, a conservatory in Des Moines, Iowa. Slayton first discovered Kanzi through an online video where he communicated with touchscreens. Intrigued by the bonobo’s abilities, Slayton reached out to the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative to request shooting a Minecraft video with Kanzi.

The organization saw this as an opportunity to connect with younger audiences and agreed to the collaboration. Slayton visited Kanzi over two sessions a month apart in 2023 to teach him how to play Minecraft. To assist with his training, Slayton built an open world with larger targets for Kanzi to tap on. Peanuts were used as motivation for the bonobo.

Despite a mishap where Kanzi broke one of the touch screens, he quickly grasped the game and began playing by himself. In his second session, Kanzi even played against a human player who had no idea he was playing against a monkey. The video of Kanzi’s Minecraft skills went viral, with 2.8 million views and counting.

The success of the video led to fundraising campaigns to support the Ape Cognition and Communication Institute and the renovation of a learning center dedicated to educating students about endangered bonobos. Kanzi’s gaming talents have proven to be mentally stimulating for him while also spreading awareness about his species.

Kanzi’s story demonstrates the positive impact video games can have and highlights how esports can bring people together. Just like the Valorant Champions Tour promotes gamers from different countries, Kanzi is using his skills to unite people in support of endangered animals.

Overall, Kanzi the bonobo is showing the world that gaming can be more than just entertainment—it can also be a powerful tool for education and conservation.


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