February 14th is known by many as Valentine’s Day, but here at the zoo we celebrate a slightly different holiday. Bonobos are our closest living relatives (they share the title with chimpanzees who belong to the same genus, Pan). While we share about 98.7% of our DNA, one of the things that makes bonobos unique is their peaceful philosophy to solve issues through breeding acts (this is why scientists sometimes refer to them as the “hippie apes”). Because of their loving nature, we celebrate these great apes on Valentine’s Day.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of only 8 facilities in the United States that cares for bonobos. These endangered apes are only found in one place in the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Due to multifaceted complications in the country, bonobos face several threats including habitat loss, and the illegal pet trade. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is proud to support Lola Ya Bonobo, the world’s only bonobo sanctuary, in their efforts to rehabilitate orphaned bonobos, and reintroduce them into protected areas in the wild. Lola Ya Bonobo also helps communities coexist with bonobos by building a better future through conservation and sustainable livelihoods, rather than over hunting. To learn more about Lola Ya Bonobo, you can check out their website here.
Lola Ya Bonobo isn’t the only one who can help save bonobos… You can too! While donating money to organizations on the front line, like Lola Ya Bonobo, is the most direct way to get involved in conservation, there are several other things you can do to be active participants in conservation.
- Coltan is a mineral mined in bonobo habitat and is found in every single cell phone. By recycling your old cell phones here at the zoo, you can lower the demand for new coltan mining and help save bonobo habitats.
- Buying local products reduces the amount of long-distance shipping needed which can lower your carbon footprint and have global impacts on climate change.
♥ Be aware of the social media content you interact with!
- Primates are not pets! Content on social media that depicts primates as pets, wearing clothes, or in other unnatural situations can have detrimental impacts on primates in the wild. Interacting with this content (liking, watching, sharing, etc.) increases the demand for unethical practices and the illegal pet trade. Even some influencers and organizations that market themselves as being conservation-focused can post problematic content so make sure you do your research before supporting them!
♥ Visit the zoo!
- By coming to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, your ticket is helping support conservation initiatives around the world, including bonobo conservation at Lola Ya Bonobo.
New Kids On The Block:
We thought it was only right to announce the arrival of two new faces in Jungle Trails on World Bonobo Day! Gilda and Nora Jan are female bonobos that come from the Memphis Zoo, and the Milwaukee County Zoo respectively. These beautiful ladies have been settling into their new home, and getting to know their new family and are doing great. Make sure to keep an eye out for them on your next visit!
Gilda & Nora Jan
Bonobo Identification Guide
Male, born 9/5/1995
Male, born 1/24/1994
Female, born 1/9/1999
Male, born 3/16/2015
Female, born 8/15/2004
Female, born 7/23/2020
Female, born 4/13/1979
Female, born 11/6/2009
Female, born 6/29/2013
Female, born 2/6/2006