Remembering Amali

Posted November 20, 2023 by Victoria McGee

We are devastated to share that 3-year-old bonobo Amali passed away. This loss comes after a week of supportive care, due to a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) outbreak within the bonobo troop.

RSV causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. It’s so common that most children have been infected with the virus by age 2. It can also affect adults, but symptoms are usually milder. Bonobos are especially susceptible to the RSV and the secondary infections that happen alongside it. Younger individuals are at an even higher risk of complications.

baby bonobo amali sticking her tongue out
baby bonobo amali looking at the camera

One of her keepers shared this about Amali:

“People say the best things come in small packages, and after working with Amali I’m here to tell you… they’re right. Amali was small but mighty. She had a huge personality. “Lil Bit,” a nickname her keepers lovingly called her, was always eager to interact with keepers … so much so we’d routinely see her arm waving in the hallway trying to get our attention. The entire bonobo troop adored her; from our large adult males to her half-brother Bo, everyone was a playmate but made sure to be gentle and tender with her.

Bonobos are incredibly intelligent, and their social group is tight-knit. The Jungle Trails team allowed every member of the troop to say a final goodbye and start the grieving process after this unexpected loss. It’s hard for everyone, and while her keepers and troop continue to grieve the loss, we’re comforted by the idea that she is reunited with her father Vernon. And despite only being 3, she has inspired countless guests to take action to help wild bonobos. We ask you to join us in celebrating her life by sharing your favorite moments or stories of Amali, and continue to be a champion for bonobo conservation in her honor.”

The Jungle Trails team is prioritizing supportive care for the rest of the symptomatic members of the troop. We see signs of recovery and remain hopeful that the infection has mostly run its course.

Thank you for your time and kindness in this trying time.