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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The keepers found a gabon viper in the bonobo forest! Gabon vipers are the dragons of sub-Saharan Africa. Two horns perch between the nose, and beneath the pale eyes are two geometric brown stripes, flowing outwards like river deltas. They have the longest fangs and spew the most venom of any poisonous snake.

If these fangs find you, the initial symptoms are intense pain and blistering around the bite. Your tongue and eyelids swell, you go into convulsions, you may defecate or urinate uncontrollably before you lose consciousness. You start to haemorrhage in your lungs, intestine, and urinary tract. Eventually, the venom erodes the muscles around the heart and you die of a heart attack.

Can you believe it?? brian says he's sad because he likes snakes but personally i'm glad it's dead. don't want to mess around with even the chance it would find me, or the bonobos!

Food for Sex

someone in the comments asked me what we were doing in congo and now, after things have settled down, i'm pleased to introduce our new study: food for sex. it's no secret that whenever there is food around, bonobos have sex. to ease the tension, and to stop fighting. in chimps, the dominant gets the food and if anyone else tries to take it, he beats them up. in bonobo, there seems to be a more egalitarian way of doing it and when there's food around, especially EXPENSIVE food, like green apples flown in from south africa at $100 a box, they go crazy. everyone has sex, so everyone seems to get a little bit.
but what's never been shown in an experiment before is whether they EXCHANGE food for sex. so yeah, they have sex, but will they give food in exchange for it?

first trial today!

don't forget to donate to the release!

Monday, March 30, 2009


Thank you to Carole Riley, Natacha Santos, Andrew Francis, Angelita Fair ...

And a very BIG thank you to Jason Comeaux, who donated $400.

Thanks to our Wildlife direct donors:
Ji-ln L.
Sherri S.
Dina C.
Wanda H.
Robin D.
Maciej G.

No one died today, (thank god) but Lukuru has a snotty nose. which is the first sign of it. Please please pleeeeeese don't let it spread through the nursery!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lola In Trouble

i have some sad news. kindu was found dead in the forest. this flu epidemic is absolutely horrible. claudine thinks it was the terrible virus that ran through kinshasa. there is no fever. antibiotics don't do anything. the bonobos have severe respiratory infections and then they can't breath for 3 days then they die. it's 6 bonobos in a month now, including mimi and her baby.

i know we're doing a release drive but at the moment we desperately need funds for lola. because of the financial crisis, we have a shortfall this year for the sanctuary. anything you can spare would help so much.

the flu virus has hit group 2 and there are 10 bonobos sick. i can't take anyone else dying!!! i miss mimi so much. then mixa, mimi's baby, kisantu's baby, lodja. i haven't had time to process any of it. claudine told me this morning about the shortfall in the budget and i couldn't believe it. please send anything you can.

i just hope it doesn't spread to the nursery or group 3. if lomela or kata or lukuru or any one of the babies gets sick i think i'll go crazy!

Tough Day

we had a really sad day today. Mixa, a little boy from group 1 died today. He was the most special little bonobo, Brian's favourite. He was always laughing and happy. And he would run up and down the fence line wanting to play. he loved to splash around in the water. we don't really know what happened, we found him drowned in the lake. he might have fallen into the deep part, he might have been sick, we've been having the most terrible cold epidemic and the bonobos are taking it hard. it's emergency mode here, just tying to get from one day to the next ... all the staff are really sad. with mimi's baby, mimi, and now mixa.

then i got this message which really cheered me up ...

Dear Vanessa,

I don't know if you remember me,Marie? I am the 11-years-old girl who sponsor Masisi. Yesterday, I looked the news of Lola ya Bonobo on the Web site, and I read that Masisi was very healthy. I was so happy to learn those great news! Last month, at school, we had to prepare an oral presentation on a foundation or an organisme that we love. I did it on Lola ya Bonobo and I showed some pictures of Masisi to my friends.They fell in love with her. Every day, they ask me "How is Masisi? Is she growing up?"

I just wanted to have some news. If you want to answer me, please send your e-mail to boyoma1 at

Thank you to take care of the cute little Masisi. Transmit her my greetings (can we say this in english?!),

Marie Haroon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thanks for the Donations!

hey! we made it to past $1000 for the release! thanks to the generous donations of Sarah Chancel ($100) John and Bretta Fox ($200). John came to our board meeting last year and gave us some great ideas for taking bonobos into U.S. classrooms and we're currently working on a lesson plan now.

So all in all we're up to $1135!!

Aiming for $20,000 by the end of july, so we're 1/20th of the way there!

If you haven't already, don't forget to donate to the bonboo release -

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Hey, here's an interview you might be interested in on Paw Talk:

Paw-Talk is a forum and blog for pet enthusiasts and animal lovers interested in discussing the latest news, events, issues, tips, and personal experiences about their pets and animals. I think it's awesome they're branching out to educated people about endangered species, starting with bonobos!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Semendwa's Baby

it's a boy! semendwa has had another baby - Leki, which means 'the first little brother' because no other babies have a little brother except leki's sister, elikia. isn't he darling? i couldn't get a very good face shot, but i assure you his little wrinkly face is just too too cute!

it's important for the bonobos at lola to have babies, because we are hoping that mothers with infants will provide the focal groups for the bonobos who are being released. in the wild, the group centres around mother and infant pairs, so we hope this will encourage the group to stick together. Also, if the bonobos are going to be wild, they need to know how to raise babies, and now semendwa has had excellent practise!!

we've just got in all our donations from wildlife direct, so we'll be thanking everyone shortly and giving you an update on our progress for fundrasing for the release.

if you haven't already, don't forget to donate:

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Lomela was nowhere in sight but i did get a glimpse of the nose-picking monster - boyoma. although he struck me as kind of grown up. He shared food with baby moyi, he ate his papaya with minimum mess, and there was barely a booger in sight! i was almost sad ... maybe it was too hot.

all the babies have terrible colds, there's a lot of coughing going on, but everyone is ok, so far. i've been giving them vitamins every morning!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Masisi is big! look at the photos of her last year and this year! can you see how much bigger she is? i didn't get a good photo because all she did was run around. up trees, down trees, into the bushes, stealing my camera bag ... the only photo i got of her was when she took a break to chew on a stick for a while. whew! a big change from last year when all she did was sit on her mama Henriette and never get off!

ok, i know there are lots of anxious mamas out there for Lomela. she is in with the big group now!!! the only problem is there is a known dirt thrower - keza a big male who every time i pull out my camera slings a fistful of mud ... but i'm going to do it, i know you're all counting on seeing what a big, beautiful bonobo she is now!

don't forget to donate to the release project!, and there's now a widget thanks to S at wildlife direct!!!!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Internet Woes and Lukuru Update

Yay! internet! sorry for all those anxious parents out here, waiting for news, the Internet was totally kaput for like a week. But now it is on and guess who is first - Lukuru!!

This is her last year ...

Nursery 101

... and now look at her with mama henriette! she is big - she has so much hair!!! and all her parents should know she is the sweetest bonobo ever - like so totally adorably sweet. she just runs right up to you and wants you to tickle her - i've never seen such a brave bonobo who is so small! she's just a baby, probably only 2 years old. but she is just so happy. she laughs and plays all day with her buddy sandoa. i tried to take a picture of the two of them, but they are just a blur.

Lukuru with Mama Henriette

I have heaps of news on the release project - more on that later. don't forget to donate, we're after $20,000 for the 20,000 hectares.

Big Lukuru kisses!

Friday, March 6, 2009

We now have 365 acres!

James from Florida sponsored Kata for his friend Gina, our friend Vera from England donated $50, Sean from Canada donated $15, and J right up the road from me in North Carolina donated $30!

So we now have 365 acres for the release site - yay! only 19,635 to go! And I still havent been able to get in to my WildlifeDirect account, although Sheryl is working on it!! So there might even be more I don't know about!

So sign up if you haven't already, the bonobo release is a historic moment in bonobo conservation - the first time ever a release like this has happened. Tell you friends and family, buy them a little piece of forest for their birthday or ask them (like i do) to give you a little piece of Congo for yours!

Every little bit helps! go to www.friendsofbonbos.og/support.htm to get your original certificate!

Leaving for Congo in 1 hour - wish me luck peeps!!!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET

Tucked into a rural section of Louisiana, a few miles from Lafayette, an unexpected compound springs from the landscape. It is the nation's largest primate testing lab. The New Iberia Research Center, part of the University of Louisiana, houses more than 6,000 primates and one of the largest captive populations of chimpanzees in the world.

"Nightline" obtained the results of a nine-month undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. A Humane Society investigator took a hidden camera inside the New Iberia Research Center for most of 2008. The video shows what the Society says is the way monkeys and great apes are treated behind closed doors.

The New Iberia Research Center is a public facility, and its research includes contract work for pharmaceutical companies and hepatitis studies. The lab receives millions in public funding but limited public scrutiny.

"Facilities are very secretive in general," said the investigator, who asked to remain anonymous because of the investigation. "It's hard to get a lot of good information out of what really goes on. You rarely see images other than what is kind of posted on the Web sites. Going undercover in a place is the only way you'll see what's the truth."

The Humane Society investigator told ABC News that chimpanzees, often perched several feet off the ground, are shot with sedation guns, with little regard for their safety. The video shows chimps crashing to the floor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

so far...

We have $30 for the release project! Thanks to Lynn Makert and Carole Riley!! We're hoping to raise $20,000 between the US and France before the release on June 19, so let's not let those Frenchies show us up.

You'll receive a special certificate featuring an exclusive photo by Christine d'Hauthuille, French journalist and photographer, who just came back from the release site a few months ago. Christine describes it as a 'dream'.

Help us make the dream a reality! Donate to the release project!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Help for the release!

So we have a new mission , raising money for the release! If some of you don't know, Lola is planning the world's first bonobo release project. Every great ape except for bonobos has been released into the wild. It's crucial we have a method that works now while there are still some bonobos left and not wait until we have the last 60 bonobos at lola until we try and release them.

Claudine has asked me to send out a shout for help - we desperately need funds to make this happen - anything would be great!

Everything is ready. The bonobos have been through extensive health checks, Claudine has just been again to the site to see the local people - she finalised a contract with them and they've agreed to be bonobo guardians.

Please help us with this important project!

Sheryl is helping with a donation widget but in the meantime, just go to and make a donation of any amount!! i'll let you know how we're going and give you updates on progress once i get there!

look at this amazing forest! Imagine when the bonobos see it for the first time!!!!

help Claudine help the bonobos!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

going to lola on friday!

yay! i'm leaving for lola on friday so all you worried mamas out there will get updates!!! and pics. i'm still so jetlagged from australia, dunno if i told you i was there but now i've given up on trying to get on US time since i'm goign on friday anyway. i can't wait to give lomela a big hug! i can't wiat to see kata's pouty face! and i can't wait to see how big lukuru's grown.

boyoma will be picking his nose like always...