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Friends of Bonobos

Who is stealing Elonga’s milk ? 
 
Last April, Likasi (age 12) gave birth to a cute little female. We called her “Elonga ya Lola” (Victory), as Likasi had previously suffered several miscarriages.  Since then, super-mom Likasi had been taking good care of her little baby.  One day, Jean-Claude, the keeper at enclosure 2, noticed that little Elonga seemed to be losing weight. He started keeping an extra close eye on Likasi and her baby - and soon realized with amazement that someone was stealing the little one’s milk right from her mother’s teat! 
Mbandaka
And what is more, the culprit was...
our very own Mbandaka, the dominant male of the group!  At first he was wary and would hide in the bushes, but he soon became addicted and stopped trying to conceal his game.  Whenever he got the chance, he would suckle Likasi, who not only didn't object but even offered her breast!

Elonga’s young life being under threat, we decided to move Likasi and baby to another enclosure.  In less than two weeks, Elonga was back to her normal vivacious self!  Sanza, Tchilomba’s own little female, is delighted to have a new playmate. What ambiance in enclosure 3! 


Radio collars for the bonobos
 
In order to better track the movements of the bonobos released at Ekolo ya bonobo without risk to our trackers, we tried using telemetry collars.  Indeed, thanks to an opportune meeting in the U.S. last summer, we discovered lighter and more reliable models than were available when we conducted the 2009 releaseIsiro wears her collar
.  Before using them at Ekolo, the first test would be to try them out on some of the bonobos at the Lola ya bonobo sanctuary.   We were ready for the experiment: would the bonobos accept the collars?

After several failed attempts at sedating Opala in enclosure 1, we placed the collar on Isoro, a young adult female without any offspring.   How would she respond?  Claudine, knowing how easily bonobos are stressed, is skeptical.  But Isiro happily proved her wrong!
 
Isiro has now been wearing her collar for several months without issue.  Neither she nor her enclosure companions even seem to notice it! These bonobos will never cease to amaze us!




Minova is rescued in Congo-Brazzaville
 
Shortly before the holidays, Pierrot Mbonzo, Claudine’s deputy, went to Brazzaville to collect a two-year-old female bonobo. 
 Minova
Originally thought to be a chimpanzee (!), she had been confiscated from a D.R. Congolese merchant hoping to sell her in a small fishing harbor of Pool Malebo, on the Republic of Congo side of the Congo river, 30 km from Kinshasa. Transferred to the Brazzaville Zoo in late November, she was awaiting her transfer to Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary near Pointe Noire, when she crossed paths with veterinarian Dr. Virginia Rodriquez, who immediately noticed that she was in fact a little bonobo!  
 Minova and Virginia
Worried by her advanced state of dehydration, Virginia and another surrogate mother took turn caring for the little bonobo while they waited for the necessary paperwork for her to return to the DRC!
 
Little “Minova,” as we now call her, arrived at Lola ya Bonobo in Pierrot’s arms, and was escorted by two agents from the DRC Ministry for the Environment.  Minova has been entrusted to the motherly care of Mimi, our nurse-cum-surrogate mother.  A few days later, Minova was already in great shape!


 

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