The peaceful great ape

Scientific name: Pan paniscus

Diet: Omnivore, with a preference for fruit. They also eat leaves, honey, eggs, invertebrates and small animals such as squirrels and antelopes.

Habitat:Forests south of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Until some time ago known as pygmy chimpanzees, bonobos also have a very close genetic proximity to humans, and share cognitive, social and behavioral characteristics. Therefore, as with chimpanzees, there is a proposal for its scientific reclassification, changing the genus Pan to Homo.

Bonobos were first identified as a new species in the 1920s and since then everything that has been known leaves no doubt that they really are unique animals. In addition to only living in a specific region in Central Africa, they have two unique characteristics: peaceful behavior and matriarchal society.

Conflict prevention and resolution is a priority in bonobo society. One of the most used resources for social appeasement is sex. Incidentally, bonobos are famous for a large repertoire of sexual behaviors, including male-male and female-female genital contact. And also because they are good Samaritans: they prefer, for example, to share food with strangers.

But perhaps the fact that they are led by females is the most distinguishing feature of bonobos. In most species of great apes, males are dominant over females. Female bonobos, on the other hand, have social status almost equal to that of males.

They lead the search for food, and have priority in accessing it. Offspring of high-ranking females are more likely to become an alpha male, and if a male bonobo starts to become aggressive, the females use their strength together to prevent bigger problems from happening.



According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, bonobos are classified as “Endangered” (Endangered). The population in the wild is declining, with the main threats being the destruction of its habitat (urban development, global warming and socioeconomic impacts of civil wars) and poaching for illegal activities.



In April 2022, the organization Friends of Bonobos (Les Amis des Bonobos du Congo)/Sanctuary Lola ya Bonobo announced the reintroduction of 14 bonobos into the nature, more specifically in the Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Reserve. They followed other reintroduced groups in 2009 and there are now 30 bonobos back in the wild. These animals were rescued and rehabilitated at the Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has among its main objectives to recover individuals who have gone through mistreatment and return them to the forest.