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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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

happy thanksgiving

orf. i would have posted this on time, except i was too busy scoffing turkey and then lolling on the couch in a tryptophan induced slumber.

news at lola is that the agreement between the Po and Lola ya Bonobo has been signed! a 20,000 hectare area near Basankusu is now officially the sitefor the bonobo release next year!

For those that don't know, this will be the world's first bonobo release. Every other great ape species has been reintroduced into the wild, except bonobos. Even though we could lose as many as half the animals we release, it's important to do this now so we can figure out a way that works, rather than leave it until we have the very last bonobos and THEN have to figure out how to release them.

Some of you have been curious about why we haven't already released all the bonobos back into the wild. It would save sanctuary running costs of $300,000 a year, and the bonobos would be better of the wild, wouldn't they?

The truth is, reintroduction is very risky. First you have to make sure the area is safe, and the bonobos you release wont be hunted and killed as soon as you let them go. Then you have to keep feeding the bonobos because the years they've spent in the sanctuary means they won't be able to find all their food. The area has to be large enough to have the feeding requirements, and isolated enough that they won't keep running into the nearest village to steal food from humans.

The site near Basankusu is perfect. The local Po community has agreed to become guardians for the bonobos, which will provide much more protection than hiring men with guns. The forest is full of fruiting trees and there are no other bonobos that will be in competition for resources.

Our vets are at the release site right now to sort out the logistics of how they'll manage the bonobos, where to hold equipment, facilities for medical emergencies, etc.

Watch this space for new developments.

sponsor a bonobo!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

bonobos in pants?

I had a chat to the lovely Andy Dunn of Bonobos yesterday, who, get this, does pants.

Brian was given some for his birthday, and unlike the usual American fat pants, these pants actually make Brian's bum look hot. This was Tatanga's face when he saw Brian in Bonobos this summer, who we all know had a little crush on Brian already...

So seeing as these totally cool pieces of wadrobe carried the name bonobos, I emailed Andy and asked if he'd be interested in becoming a sponsor. Who immediately rang me, and said yes, absolutely and even though they are still a new company, gave us a generous donation and sponsored all three bonobos, Lomela the charming, Kata the drama queen and Boyoma the terror.

So since our store doesn't have pants, if you want some that are stylish, affordable with the coolest name possible, visit They ship in 2 days (heaps of time for xmas!) and they have a no hassles return policy. Let's help these two charming boys get their company started.

I just bought Brian (what else?) the Congos for xmas. The palm frond lining cracks me up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bonobos for Christmas!

For all the anxious adopted parents out there, here's the latest. Boyoma, shock horror, has totally calmed down. He has gone from being a royal terror, to being everyone's friend. He has stopped picking his nose and beating up on smaller bonobos - he's hardly recognisable! I hope he doens't change too much - I'll miss the old Boyoma!

Lukuru is good but still small, she's eating and drinking fine, and trying not to be jealous of Sandoa and Masisi, who has adopted the new orphan, just like she adopts dogs and chickens. Lomela is the sweetheart of the nursery, but growing huger by the day - she'll be ready to graduate to group 3 soon!

But the big news is - we have new items in our shop, just in time for xmas! now you can give gifts and support your little infants over in bonobo land.

There's the all new organic cotton T

Maternity shirts for sexy bonobo mamas

And even something for the little ones.

Visit the shop - and order now!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

fighting in the congo - what this means for bonobos

I've had a few emails about fighting in the Congo and whether it will affect the bonobos. From what I can gather from the news, the rebel leader Nkundu is staging his own personal war in the east. Nkundu, FYI was a contender for the presidency of Congo in 2006, and when he wasn't on the final ticket, he took off east where he's been opposing the government ever since.

Of course no war will be good for the bonobos. Part of the problem is that the soldiers aren't usually paid, which means they hunt in the forest. There is no way to tell exactly how many bonobos will be killed. We do see a spike in orphans arriving at the sanctuary after a war, either because the soldiers aren't hungry enough to eat the infants or because they are so hungry they are hunting more than usual.

Having said that, the region of the fighting is not where the highest concentration of the bonobo population is, which is more in the middle than in the east. So we can hope the bonobos will remain unscathed, but I don't think this is very likely.

Monday, November 17, 2008

bonobos in an MRI?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the protocol is these days for doing research into bonobo neurophsyiology, if there is one - has protocol been developed for, example, doing MRIs on these animals while still maintaining their freedom? Have bonobos from Lola Ya Bonobo been subjects in research beyond simple behavioral research?

Part of why I ask is because I want to research the physiological basis of intelligence, and I think an important part of intelligence research is research on our relatives, but certain ethical rules are in place, well-deservedly, to maintain the health and wellbeing of non-human primates. What kinds of experimentation would be okay under current ethical standards for using primates?

who are you and what kind of funding do you have? if you have say, squillions of bucks, can fly an MRI machine to Congo during on of the bonobo health checks, sure! the application procedure is right here

They've done this at Emory before, with bonobos. Bill Hopkins did the research.

Of course you have to get the bonobos when they are asleep or anethestised. like this...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm back!

oooo, the beach was so lovely. now i am a nice caramel colour while my hubby who had to stay home is a pasty fish belly white.

Anyway - thanks for being patient, I had some interesting questions on bonobo handshake so I thought i'd answer them:

African Safari Stories said...

Hello there.

Is it true than the bonobo is the only creature other than man to have face to face intercourse?
October 28, 2008 8:06 PM

As far as I know ASS, they are. That's because, like humans, bonobo female vaginas are ventrally orientated (facing towards the stomach). Most other female animals have vaginas oriented towards the rear which facilitates, umm, doggy style. so it's easiest for both bonobos and humans to have sex face to face.

having said that, hubby aka famous Dr Brian Hare, says he has seen brown capuchin monkeys doing it face on. which means other animals probably do it to but not as frequently (or as comfortably) as bonobos and us.

Here is some face to face action.