Twycross Zoo announced the birth of a bonobo on July 25. This baby shared descends from the great ape species, found in the Republic of Congo. Bonobos are endangered and research shows that their number has continuously declined for the past thirty years.
Bonobos are considered the least familiar kind of great ape and they’re often mistaken for their nearest relatives, chimpanzees. Many efforts to protect and grow endangered captive-bred populations are crucial in maintaining the species. Not all zoos were able to keep their part of the bargain because of the tedious work that is involved.
Cheka and Her Offsprings
Twycross Zoo accepted this challenge. It’s the only UK zoo that was able to keep as well as successfully breed many species. The recently born bonobo shares 98% of its DNA with humans and belonged to experienced mother Cheka.
Cheka is a 19 year old adult bonobo which has been domesticated at the Twycross Zoo since 2004. Cheka previously gave birth to two babies as part of the carefully conceptualized EEP or European Endangered Species Program.
Gemena, Cheka’s 9 year old daughter now resides at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany. Five-year old Winton, Cheka’s son still lives in Twycross Zoo. The baby bonobo’s arrival increases the species population to 12. Four other infants were welcomed during the last 5 years.
Seed Dispersal in Germany
Twycross previously transferred one male and one female bonobo to Germany, hoping that further breeding will be more successful in Europe. Breeding bonobos is considered to be one of the most intricate processes due to the promiscuous nature of these creatures.
Although the bonobos have been included the list of captive-bred populations, Twycross Zoo Director of Life Sciences, Dr. Charlotte Macdonald reiterated that bonobos have a rather complex social structure. For them, mating is simply a powerful communication tool.
Establishing Bonds and Hierarchies
Sex isn’t always for reproduction purposes, for bonobos it’s used to effectively establish bonds and hierarchies. It’s also a way for them to express excitement and remove extreme tension from situations that are potentially aggressive. The bonobos have to be carefully managed so as to keep their genetic lines in the best condition.
Twycross Zoo is a member of United Nation’s GRASP, an organization that’s committed to ensuring long-term survival of bonobos, orang-utans, gorillas and chimpanzees as well as their habitat which is located in Asia and Africa. Research shows that bonobos experience an enormous threat in the wild.
They’re being poached due to their bush meat as well as threatened by expansive agriculture and logging. The threat even goes back to the species origin in Congo where civil unrest and political instability are just part of the country’s major problems.