Well, this blog has been running for just under 8 weeks and already we've have 32,000 people visit. This has absolutely blown me away. I thought maybe a couple hundred people would come through and learn something about bonobos, but the sheer amount of interest has left me excited and touched.
You've all been super supportive and I have been close to tears with how truly wonderful people can be, even all the way across the world. Today, I want to revist some of the hundreds of comments that you guys have sent, and answer them as best I can.
From An educated man
It's a Catch 22 . The biggest problem with baby chimps and bonobos is that the poachers think they can sell them. JGI can't take any more chimps or the ones they have will start to suffer. And unfortunately, there is nowhere else for them to go. I think what will happen is that the man who bought him might keep him for a few years and then try and sell him to a lab or a zoo. It's tough, really tough. And I don't do the coping. It's the people in charge of the sanctuaries who have to look the baby chimp in the face and turn them away that have to live with the choice. Chimpanzees aren't dogs, you just can't throw them in a big group and expect them to all get along. They grow up, they start to get violent, and it takes extreme amounts of time and money to make sure they don't end up tearing each other to pieces.
From Chimpanzees are not dogs
slb said... Excellent, excellent post, Vanessa. I would add that everyone should buy only products that are cruelty free, and carefully research any drugs your doctor prescribes - a lot of chimpanzees are used for all sorts of product and pharmaceutical research. I believe the HSUS puts the number of chimps in testing facilities in the U.S. at 1,300. THIRTEEN HUNDRED.
All those adverts that feature animals in some human incarnation make my blood boil. Don't even get me started on the circus ...
As of March this year, the NIH (National institute of Health) has permenantly banned breeding of laboratory chimps. This is fantastic news, as chimps in labs can be horribly abused, even just by sitting completely alone every day for their entire 50 years.
The problem is, people who depend on chimpanzees for medical and psychological research are going to have to find a new source. Where will they go? Will they buy baby chimps from Africa then set up in a country with no regulations for welfare, like China or Lebanon?
Keep your ears open folks. When the current population of laboratory chimps starts to die, things are going to get interesting.
From Happy birthday mummy
Bonobos have these cauliflower warts all over their penises. So this could be an STI that bonobos have. We know that other primates have STIs. But there really hasn't been any research on lethal STIs in bonobos. But interestingly enough, chimpanzees get HIV, but it doesn't develop into AIDS and kill them, like it does in humans. So one idea is that chimps have lived with HIV for so long that their immune system has evolved to handle it.
From Across the Congo river
Bonobos and chimps recognise people as easily as we recognise them. So while at the start we look the same, after you work for them for a while, they remember you. So Tambikisa, a chimp who was only 3 last year, hasn't seen me for 12 months but when I walked into the forest she jumped into my arms and sucked on my cheek, even though she is gigantically fat now and nearly broke my arms. The chimps I didn't know took I lot longer to approach me.
By Planet of the Apes, do you mean a bunch of chimps that live like people, driving cars, eating with chopsticks etc? I don't think so. Apes are not humans. They never will be. Something changed in us, millions of years ago that allowed us incredible creativity and flexibility. What our research is interested in looking at is what changed and why.
From Kata is better
Check out this...
It was gigantic. It had giant mandibles (mouthparts) and a stinger in its mouth and its bum. It took 4 hours for it to die. This is the can of insecticide it took to kill it.
Weeeeeeeeell, it's not so much we give them a hand job, its more that the girls want to g-g rub you and if you hold out your hand they will drag their clitoruses across it a few times, and the boys just want a reassuring pat on their penis. Does that count?
From Playing ball
Bonobos only live in the Democraic Republic of Congo, and are very specifically evolved to live in this area. Relocating them to another part of the world would be like chucking an Amazonian river dolphin into a bathtub and expecting them to survive.
Having said that, Lola ya bonobo sanctuary is working on a release project, to release some of the Lola bonobos back into the wild. Hopefully, if all the bonobos die out (heaven forbid), there will be a reserve population. Much like the wolves in Yellowstone National Park.
From Uh oh...
Well, now that your mother has seen the blob, she knows that she can start worrying as of this very second about ebola, about rebels with machetes... Actually, there is no point in worrying because nothing has ever stopped you from living life passionately. I shall celebrate quietly with a gin and tonic when I hear that you are back safe and sound from Kinsasha, yet again.
It's a BLOG mum. Not a blob. A BLOG.
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