Baby Bonobo Born at Cincinnati Zoo

Posted April 10, 2015

Milestone birth for this critically endangered species.                   

babybonoboCINCINNATI, OH (April 9, 2015) –The baby boom at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden continues! Sixteen-year old bonobo (pronounced bah NO bow) “Zanga,” mother of four-year-old “Clara,” gave birth to a healthy male on March 16. Mom and baby, who have been bonding behind the scenes in the Zoo’s Jungle Trails exhibit, went out on exhibit this morning for the first time.

Link to video of bonobo babys first time out.

“Zanga is taking wonderful care of the baby and the family group is behaving perfectly,” said Curator of Primates, Ron Evans. “We are seeing strong consistent nursings and good indications that milk is in the belly and pushing through.”

This is the 10th bonobo to be born at Cincinnati Zoo and represents a significant milestone for the Zoo and its effort to support collective population management with the Bonobo Species Survival Program (SSP) to conserve this critically endangered species. The baby’s father, 42-year-old “Vernon,” is a founder animal, making his genetics acutely valuable. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only seven zoos in the country to exhibit bonobos and houses more than 10%, 13 individuals, of the entire North American population.

Zoo staff was able to perform prenatal fetal ultrasounds throughout Zanga’s pregnancy, a first for the Cincinnati Zoo’s bonobo department, which provided evidence that the heart was beating and the fetus was in apparent good physical shape.

Newborn bonobos are totally dependant on their mothers. At about one year old, babies begin to slowly venture away from their mothers a little but are still dependant for many years. It takes 8-10 years for a young bonobo to reach full adulthood and learn all the lessons needed to function in their complex society.

Formerly called the pygmy chimp, the bonobo is slightly smaller than the common chimpanzee. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, leaves, flowers, fungi, eggs, and small animals. Bonobos stand between 2.3 and 2.8 feet, and can weigh as much as 86 pounds.

The few bonobos left in the wild occur in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are considered one of the most endangered of the great apes. Bonobos are human’s closest living relatives, sharing over 98% of the same DNA. Next to humans, they are the most intelligent animal on the planet.  Zoos across North America, Europe, Japan and the DRC are working to help save bonobos in the wild by learning all they can about them at home. They are inspirational ambassadors for their wild counterparts.

See Zanga and her new baby in Jungle Trails starting April 9th. Jungle Trails is FREE with regular Zoo admission.