Lola ya Bonobo

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Coordinates: 04°29′13″S 15°16′05″E / 4.48694°S 15.26806°E / -4.48694; 15.26806 (Lola ya bonobo)

A new orphan called Lomela at Lola ya Bonobo is comforted by another bonobo
Claudine André and a young bonobo

Founded by Claudine André in 1994, Lola ya Bonobo is the world's only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos.[1] Since 2002, the sanctuary has been located just south of the suburb of Kimwenza at the Petites Chutes de la Lukaya, Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lola ya Bonobo means 'paradise for bonobos' in Lingala, the main language of Kinshasa. Lola ya Bonobo is home to about 60 bonobos who live in 30 hectares of primary forest.

Lola ya Bonobo is a member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance.

Typically, bonobos arrive as young infants. The bushmeat trade in the Congo area sees hundreds of bonobos killed each year for meat. The infants are sold as pets. When confiscated, these young bonobos are taken to Lola ya Bonobo. They start a new life at the sanctuary with close care from a substitute human mother, but are usually quickly ready to be integrated into a peer group, and shortly afterwards into one of the large, mixed-age social groups.

Although the bonobos are captive, they live in an environment similar to the wild. They can forage among dozens of edible plants and fruiting trees, compete for mating opportunities, and learn to avoid dangers such as stepping on venomous snakes just as they would in the wild. As a result, the bonobos at the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary, living in their forested microcosm, show all the naturally occurring behaviors observed in wild bonobos (in fact, they actually display some behaviors such as tool use that have not been observed in the wild).

Because of the living conditions provided, the sanctuary can play a critical role by demonstrating the level of humane treatment that captive apes deserve. The sanctuary also protects wild bonobos since it triggers the enforcement of domestic and international conservation laws aimed at preventing the trade in live bonobos. The sanctuary also acts as a mouthpiece for conservation efforts in DRC by educating thousands of Congolese visitors each year about the value of Congo's natural history, in particular the bonobo – their unique Congolese inheritance.[2]

Friends of Bonobos[edit]

Friends of Bonobos is a US 501(c)3 charity that supports Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary. It was founded by Claudine André and is entirely run by volunteers in the US. Its president, Dominique Morel, is based in Pakistan. Andre met Morel in Kinshasa while she was running the sanctuary in a small forested enclosure in the American school compound where Morel was living.


  1. ^ "Sanctuary. A love story" (PDF). Educator. Environmental Education and Training Newsletter. United Nations Environment Programme (2). 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
  2. ^ André, Claudine; Thompson, Jo (2008). "The Conservation Value of Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary". In Furuichi, Takeshi (ed.). The bonobos behavior, ecology, and conservation. New York: Springer. p. 303-322. ISBN 978-0-387-74787-3.


  • Andre, C., Kamate, C., Mbonzo, P., Morel, D., Hare, B. 2008. The conservation value of Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary.
  • Takesi, I., Thompson, J. (Eds) Bonobos Revisited: ecology, behavior, genetics, and conservation. Springer, New York.
  • Woods, Vanessa. Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo. Gotham, 2010.

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