This blog has moved!

Please go to my new Psychology Today blog to see what I'm up to. To buy the book, Bonobo Handshake, please visit my website. To follow the adventures of the Lola ya Bonobo orphans, please visit Friends of Bonobos

Friday, March 18, 2011

Follow news of Lola, the bonobos and Ekolo on...

To follow news of Lola, the Bonobos and the reintroduction at Ekolo please follow the link bellow:

You can also find us on facebook: "Friends of Bonobos"

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Hey everyone - it's finally here! I'm just about to move the blog to Psychology Today. But to order your copy, see where I'm speaking, or just general bonobo news, visit

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

There's still time!

Primate Palooza tonight!

Tonight, at Duke University in NC we are celebrating primates, especially bonobos.

Because bonobos get ignored back front and sideways as demostrated by this family tree:

which happens ALL the time (ironically this image was on the post "know your family tree" ) WHERE ARE BONOBOS???

So like the fat kid at school, to make up for all the times they are left out, forgotten, uninvited to the party, Claudine Andre will be coming to dedicate the evening to our long lost cousins.

If you don't come for bonobos, come for signed men's basketball memorabilia.

So if you're on Duke's campus, watch out for:

which is a lemur chasing a banana (we couldn't get a bonobo suit made in time). But come see for yourself.

Monday, April 12, 2010

almost forgot!

Brian said he spent hours with Lomela at the release site - and she's doing great!

i told him to get photos but he lost his camera (idiot) so you'll just have to take my word for it for now. will try and rummage up some photos soon...

Friday, April 9, 2010

more on the basankusu party

Just got some more photos from Suzy at the release site. She writes:

Our education program at the release site has been going great! We had t-shirts made with the Ekolo ya bonobo logo on it and had a great public parade - check out all the bonobo females in a line.

We've been keeping in close contact with local officials to tell them why bonobos are important and not to forget them! We've been broadcasting on local radio, telling them especially why bonobo females are so important to bonobo society:)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Claudine coming to America! Attention North Carolina!

Internationally renowned conservationist Claudine André will visit Duke University April 14-18 as part of the "Primate Palooza," an effort to raise awareness for our primate relatives.

André founded and runs the world's only sanctuary and release program for orphaned bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bonobos, like chimpanzees, are our closest living relative and are highly endangered. However, unlike chimpanzees and humans, bonobos are the only ape that has found a way to maintain peace in their groups.

When bonobos have a disagreement with each other they tend to hug or share food instead of having a fight. Bonobos have never been observed to kill each other and females cooperate to prevent males from bullying smaller bonobos. Ironically, this peaceful ape only lives in one country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been torn apart by almost a decade of war that has killed more than five million people.

André was given an orphan bonobo called Mikeno when she was caring for abandoned animals at the Kinshasa zoo during the war. She collected food from local restaurants to feed Mikeno and other starving animals while starting kindness clubs to teach Congolese children about animals. Further north, soldiers were shooting bonobos for food, and before long, she was flooded with bonobo orphans.

"I wanted a paradise for my bonobos," Claudine says. "Somewhere they would always be fed and taken care of. Somewhere they could always see the sky."

She established Lola ya Bonobo in 2001 in a forest just outside Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo. Since the sanctuary has opened her non-profit "friends of bonobos" has funded the visits of tens of thousands of children to the bonobo sanctuary.

In 2009, André enlisted the help of Duke students and faculty in the Evolutionary Anthropology Department to aid her efforts to release bonobos orphaned by the illegal pet and bush meat trade back into the wild.

"Having Claudine here at Duke is a wonderful opportunity to share with students and the general public the difference a single individual can make," says Duke researcher Brian Hare. "Claudine has done more for bonobo conservation than anyone else in the world. If you want to meet a conservation heroine this is your chance."

Duke's Primate Palooza will run from April 14th - 17th. The main events open to the public are as follows:

Primate Symposium: Why you need to know you are a primate
5-8 p.m., Wednesday, April 14

Duke faculty studying primates will discuss how knowing you're a primate can improve your life. Keynote speaker Claudine André will speak about her work saving bonobos and defending the world's last great tropical forest in the Congo Basin. A silent auction including Duke Men's basketball, Duke Lemur Center, and Bonobo memorabilia will be held to benefit "Friends of Bonobos."

Love Auditorium
Levine Research Science Center
308 Research Drive
Duke University
Durham, NC, 27708
Public Parking available in Bryan Center on Science Drive a short walk from Center
Contact: Kara Schroepfer,, 919-943-3482

A night with Claudine André and the bonobos of Congo
6:30 - 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 15
Durham Museum of Life and Science
433 Murray Avenue, Durham, NC 27704
Contact: Darcy Lewandowski,, (919) 220 -5429 x372

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

party in basankusu

The bonobo release had a party to celebrate the success of the release! It was a great opportunity to get the local community involved in the celebration and spread awareness...

Monday, April 5, 2010

A goodbye handshake

So my hubby Brian is a hard science kind of guy, and he doesn't usually get into the whole anthropomorphism, huggy state that i do with the bonobos.

but before he left the release site, something happened that really moved him.

Etumbe, the alpha female, came to the door before the exit. She didn't try to escape, and she had never approached Brian before. He'd been there for a week. But it was the last day, and how she knew, Brian has no idea. But she sat by the door, and took his hand, shaking it, as if to say 'good-bye, thanks for coming'.

It was just so human-like, and so touching. Brian hasn't stopped talking about it since.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What's a bonobo?

Beni at the release site

My husband Brian was just at the release site, looking at the potential to do long term studies there with the released bonobos.

He followed some of the released bonobos for a while, which was a nex experience for him because usually, he's on the other side of the fence - in fact Brian's never been in the same space as a bonobo bigger than a 5 year old before.

Anyway, Beni, who he always plays with was there. The trackers were discouraging contact but Beni wouldn't have anything of it! He lay on his back and started laughing, which is the cue for Brian to start tickling him. Brian didn't want to make contact, since the bonobos are in traiing to be independent from humans, but Beni woulnd't let up, he just lay on his back on the ground, laughing hysterically in anticipation that Brian would start tickling him...

Brian said it was just about the cutest thing he'd ever seen...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

back online

Hi everyone,

sorry i was offline for so long, leaving you with no updates on the bonobos! i had a small medical issue and i took a while to get better but i'm back online.

Also, i started another blog at Psychology Today:

I think it's a great opportunity to bring bonobos to a wider audience, so I'm happy they invited me to be on the blog roll.

and i'll be linking there posts to this blog, hope you guys don't mind. Today's is:

have fun reading!

Monday, March 1, 2010

a little dip

Temperatures at Lola can hit 90oF with 100% humidity. Here is Manono, our Olympic swimmer having a little dip

photo: David Reid

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bigfoot has hair

Not sure if you remember the furore of the bigfoot photo
where someone actually took my photos and entered it into a bigfoot competition! but now the original bigfoot, Bandundu, has finally grown some hair. Which is lucky b/c now her baby has something to hold onto!
photo: David Reid

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

smelling the lilies?

I always love photos of the photos with the lilies - they look so romantic - liek htey're just inhaling their faint heady scent. But actually it's the scene before they chomp them up - which doesn't look so romantic - petals shredded everywhere. I've heard of bonobos foraging for pith (the bit inside the lily stem)- that ties into Richard Wrangham's theory of the aquatic ape. And bonobos do hae a bit of webbing between their 2nd and 3rd toe.

But I haven't heard of them eating flowers before...

photo: David Reid

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bisengo the little prince

This is little Bisengo, who I have known since he was born. He is the perfect example of an alpha bonobo. So we usually say that the females are in charge of bonobo groups, but actually it the babies - especially a little prince like Bisengo who can get anything he wants! If there is a grape within even 10 feet of Bisengo, it's his, no matter who else is around!

Bisengo is quite a little climber - maybe a prime candidate for the release project?

Friday, February 19, 2010

David Reid

I have some photos I've been meaning to post from David Reid who went to Lola a few months ago. I've post them all over the next few weeks!

This is Makali, a bonobo rescued from a biomedical centre. He has somethign to say!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Noki and baby...

Noki and her baby are in wonderful health! they've been released into the enclosures. Noki is nursing her baby well and protecting her from slapping branches and the sun. but she is also very proud and loves to show the baby to the other bonobos!