Bonobo Birthdays and Historic Bonobo Rewilding!

Posted April 13, 2022 by Faith Hall

Every day is special at the zoo, but this week has been quite the celebration in Jungle Trails! We have two birthdays within the area – Bonobo Lana & Keeper Matt. The festivities feel extra special, due to recent major conservation successes from Friends of Bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

Birthday Buddies

Matt is one of Lana’s favorite keepers, which makes the fact that they share a birthday really exciting! Lana, at 43, is currently the oldest bonobo at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. She likes to spend her time with her daughter, Kesi, and granddaughter, Amali. Originally from the San Diego Zoo, Lana and Kesi moved to the Cincinnati Zoo in 2015 and have quickly become guest favorites.

Lana is known for her fun personality, beautiful smile, and desire to interact with guests through the glass windows in their habitats. Lana and Kesi have a special bond that has allowed us to witness moments not typically seen in bonobo populations in the wild.

Due to their matriarchal society, once females reach a sexually mature age they are usually pushed outside their immediate family groups. Only sons stay with their mothers their entire lives. Lana and Kesi, however, have remained close and Lana has become a doting grandmother. Videos of her playing with Amali have been shared around the world, and have inspired people everywhere to get involved in bonobo conservation.

To learn more about bonobos, and how you can help them check out our blog post here.

Conservation Success

Bonobos are only found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Friends of Bonobos of the Congo/Amis des Bonobos du Congo, which operates the world’s only bonobo sanctuary, help protect these great apes and their natural habitat. Their work focuses on the rehabilitation of orphaned bonobos and the reintroduction of bonobos to the wild in a protected reserve in the Congo rainforest. Friends of Bonobos also helps communities coexist with bonobos by addressing the root causes of bonobo endangerment. They collaborate with communities living near bonobo habitats to build a better future through conservation and sustainable livelihoods… To learn more about Friends of Bonobos and their sanctuary, Lola Ya Bonobo, you can check out their website here

Friends of Bonobos shared some incredibly exciting news last week… they successfully returned 14 bonobos to the wild! The 14 bonobos were released into a 120,000-acre reserve deep in the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo – such an accomplishment is monumental for the wild population! This success made the area’s birthdays extra special, as there’s much more to celebrate! 



Happy Birthday Lana, and congratulations Friends of Bonobos of the Congo!