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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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

our brand new fence for the brand new year!

Our physicist friend, Jim Holtz, made a very generous donation this year which enabled us to build a brand new fence for group 3! we desperately needed it, since some of the bonobos were escaping and causing havoc, but as you can see from the pictures - no escape artist is going to make it out now!

I'm including ALL the photos, because even though once upon a time i might have thought fences were boring, when you have 12 little trouble makers, including Boyoma, to keep contained, I think this fence is the most beautiful creation I've ever seen!

Thank you Jim, for helping us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nsomi, little hope of Ekolo

If this face doesn't make you want to adopt a bonobo for xmas - i don't know what will!

The first bonobo born at the release site, she is the hope for our future and the joy in our hearts!

Looking for original present ideas for Christmas? Why not a bonobo gift-donation or gift-adoption? or a Friends of bonobos t-shirt, hat or mug? Visit our website for more information or shop on-line at and

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


from nat geo.

if only they would be more responsible about the exploitation of endangered species in the US (that would be Hollywood chimps Nat Geo!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

grubs? yum!

following up on maybe supplementing the diet of the release bonobos, one of the trackers spent a while teaching Kubulu (aka GPS) about forest delicacies - grubs! yum!

Don't forget to adopt a bonobo for xmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009


update from suzy

Hello everyone!

It's my great pleasure to confirm that there are now six bonobos at the release site at Basankusu. Now that the pesky Max isn't displaying his dominance every five minutes (well he probably is, but back at Lola) we can follow the bonobs in the forest and conduct scientific observations.

The organisation of the group hasn't changed except Beni has gone up a bit since Mas has gone.

We maintain at least 3 ft distance from the bonobos, and take care not to disturb them. We also thought of changing their diet by reducing sugar cane more fruit, so they don't eat too much - without of course leaving them hungry, especially Etumbe with her new baby and Lukaya with a baby on the way! those ladies love to eat!

The local population of Baskankusu loves to come and see the bonobos. We'd like the bonobos to keep appearing on the beach ot take the opportunity to teach the people about bonobos and dispel some myths - like the one where the bonobos poop diamonds!

The most important thing is that the bonobos are not stressed. they take our presence calmly and they trust us.Link
They are also all in good health, which is a blessing!

Looking for original present ideas for Christmas? Why not a bonobo gift-donation or gift-adoption? or a Friends of bonobos t-shirt, hat or mug? Visit our website for more information or shop on-line at and

Thursday, December 17, 2009

real release baby?

'Lukaya is great, she has a huge swollen belly! the baby is soon on the way'

that's the news flash - does that mean this will be the first baby born in the wild??

waiting with baited breath!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adopt a bonobo for xmas!

Don't forget to think of the Lola bonobos for Xmas! I've been getting mail from the moonbears and the gorilla fund about xmas donations, so I just wanted to remind you - whether it's a bonobo or another charity - sponsoring an animal or giving a donation on behalf of someone else is a way better idea than giving them a tacky gift they don't want!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking a quick break from bonobo land to give you all a bit of wildlife eye candy:

is a multimedia organization that documents leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, explore creates a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others.

Which basically means you can watch amazing wildlife documentaries and plaster your desktop with award winning images. So if anyone is procrastinating b/c it's xmas - check out

i loved the gorillas:

all they need is bonobos!


Kubulu is one of the release bonobos, Zannah and the tracking team have started to call him 'GPS' because he acts as their guide in the forest.

'he always checks that we are ok and not lost. I went on a forest patrol to check in the forest with some ecoguards, and Kubulu came for the whole 6hrs- he really thought he was part of the team!'

Here is the GPS in action

Friday, December 11, 2009

The first release baby going strong...

Etumbe's baby, the very first baby born on the release project - is doing great! Her name is Nsomi and she's a very vocal young lady, always doing mini-hoots and grunts.

She's the darling of everyone, here she is on bonobo beach with everyone making a big fuss over her.

And guess who that is, right behind Etumbe??? LOMELA!!! look how big she is! and she's so sweet to the baby, she's always petting and stroking her.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Full reintroduction report

Hi everyone,

We have the pleasure of sharing with you this short update on the reintroduction of a first group of bonobos, rehabilitated at LOLA YA BONOBO, in the swampy primary forest of the DRC, at a place we have named EKOLO YA BONOBO ("the land of bonobos"). We had been preparing the reintroduction for several years now and the release of this first group is a landmark in our efforts. It is the first time ever that bonobos are reintroduced in their former habitat, and by all accounts the results are very encouraging....

On behalf of Claudine and the EKOLO and LOLA teams, we wish you a pleasant reading.

Looking for original present ideas for Christmas? Why not a bonobo gift-donation or gift-adoption? or a Friends of bonobos t-shirt, hat or mug? Visit our website for more information or shop on-line at and

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Released bonobos back at Lola?

I've had a couple of people write me and ask what the bonobos who were released were doing back at Lola - I'm sorry I didn't explain very well.

Max, beautiful Max with his long flowing locks, was a little more trouble than we thought. We had assumed that the bonobos would be afraid of the forest, so that human presence or post-release monitoring would prove reassuring. In practice, the released bonobos dapted surprisingly easily to their new environment, showing no sign of fear. In
particular, Max immediately started displaying towards intruders in “his” territory, before alming down and coming for a contact with known staff. Max similarly displays towards bonobos, but they seem to largely ignore his shows and simply get out of his way. The new trackers were notably more impressed and this delayed initial post-release monitoring

When an intruding villager was bitten in August while fishing for eel right next to the isolation enclosure, it was decided to remove the three bonobos who were showing more potential aggressiveness and return them to LOLA, so that
the trackers could start effectively monitoring the group before the seasonal rise in river water risked dispersing the bonobos further away into the forest. On October 19-20, Max, Lisala and Lomami were transported back to LOLA YA BONOBO and reintegrated their former groups without any trouble – like they just went on a short holidays.

Max wasted no time running around having sex with all the females as soon as he was home. I thought a romance between he and Lomela was developing at the release site, but they don't seem to miss each other too much:)

Now with the remaining 6 bonobos at the release site - everything is fine. The trackers can follow them into the forest, and we can finally start gathering important data on their post release habits!


Monday, December 7, 2009

zannah #2

Now that the big bonobos are back at Lola, we are able to enter the forest and walk with them, thats been fantastic. I have been teaching the team how to use GPS so now they can mark where the bonobos go for nests and where they walk to. We started off the process very gently, alloweing them time to get used to us. We did’ presentations’ on the beach, so they knew we were their friends. Etumbe and Suzy really are great pals, and Etumbe at the beginning, came to Suzy to make contact and check everything was ok. Then all was well- important to keep the female alliances!

Friday, December 4, 2009

from zannah

"I just got back, and had an great time. There has been a lot of progress these last few weeks. As i think you know, Max Lomami and Lisala returned to Lola 2 weeks ago. They have come back for a bit of a summer-camp, and are happy to see Lola again. The idea is to have a new island for them, set up like Lola, where they can stay in safety but in their natural mileu."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My monkey baby...

Just got this alert from Madeline:

I'm one of the many lurkers you have around your blog.
"My Monkey Baby", a new show on TLC, glorifies the keeping of monkeys as children. The show airs on October 4 and chronicles a couple who keep a capuchin as a “pet” but treat the monkey as their daughter. The couple dresses the monkey, who they have named Jessica Marie, in designer clothes, put makeup on her, and buy her children’s toys.
I think it is truly terrible. TLC's programming is mostly trash nowadays but this is a bit over the top - and could increase the number of apes in private hands in the US. Born Free USA already has a post set up about it, and the show's preview video is available in the feminist site Jezebel. I know you have your hands full (and then some) but it would be really cool if you could spread the word out to people that might have the means to prevent this show from becoming a permanent TLC fixture.

You can watch the preview here:

Please write to and speak out about My Monkey Baby.

You can cut and paste this into your email:

Dear Discovery networks,

I am concerned about your show, My Monkey Baby.

Primates are not domesticated animals. While a tiny percentage of pet dogs will bite a human, all primates will readily bite a human.

ALL primates potentially carry diseases deadly to humans including Herpes B, Yellow Fever, Monkeypox, Ebola virus, Marburg virus, SIV, HIV and Tuberculosis.

Most primates are highly endangered. It is illegal to own, purchase or sell primates in Africa. Unfortunately, an international trade rages in Africa –- including the sale of primates. Hunters shoot mothers and sell their bodies as meat to rich city dwellers who can afford the luxury. They pull babies off the backs of their dead mothers to sell in the markets as pets. However, these pet traders are doing nothing worse than what is done in the United States legally: baby primates are pulled off their mothers’ backs and sold as pets.

Primate ownership in the US is hypocritical when we are trying to conserve them in the wild.

Please remove My Monkey Baby from your programming.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

a monkey breeder wrote me today...

This was in my inbox this morning:


While you most certainly have the right to express your opinion against primate ownership, you do however not have the rights to steal the content from our site to publish on your blog. Unless you have explicit permission from the owners of the pictures, you do not have the right to repost them on your site as you should know as a blogger. I’m sure you would not appreciate it if we would start publishing your pictures on our site. Please remove any stolen content from our site at once. I’ve already alerted some of the people involved to file a DMCA violation against you.

Thank you for your time!

Between my three blogs I have thousands of readers (probably why they are concerned), many of you are faithful followers. So I'm asking you one thing that will really be of help to endangered primates all over the world:

From now on I'll be posting links to these monkey breeding websites. Please go, visit them, and when you're done, send your congress member the sandard format letter I'll have on the post.

How can we protect endangered animals in their indigenous countries if we in the US can buy and sell them as we please? How can we implore an African not to buy and sell chimpanzees and bonobos if we do exactly that?

I'll soon have a whole new website, where all this information will be in one place. Every time an add using a monkey, chimp, or other primate appears in the media I'll have the name and contact of the person in the company who hired them for you to write to. Every time a new primate is for sale on one of these websites, I'll have the link, so you can see these infant primates who will grow up to bite, dressed in clothes. Spread the word, write to your representatives and together we can keep primates in the wild where they belong.

By the way, this might interest you all:

Thank you for your support, everyone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

little vanga passed away

I'm not sure if I've written much about Vanga, the little terror of the nursery, but sadly he died a few days ago. I just got this note from Pierrot, our Education Manager at the sanctuary:

'The keepers heard a noise that a bonobo had fallen hard through a tree and the branch had broken. The bonobo cried out. Vanga was gravely hurt. His Mama Yvonne took him in her arms and tried to revive him, but he died a few hours later from loss of blood.'

I've known Vanga since he basically arrived at the sanctuary when he was 2 years old. He turned from a shy, scared little bonobo into king of the nursery. No one - soldier, ambassador, nun - could go into the nursery without Vanga's permission.

I'll miss him. Here is my favorite photo of him with Mama Yvonne