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New Baby Bonobo Just In Time For The New Year

Media Alert: Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Contact:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 2010
 
CONTACT:                                                
Patty Peters                                                         
Vice President Community Relations

NOTE:
To allow time for the mother and baby to bond they are currently not on view.  Photos and video are available upon request.

Powell, OH – Columbus Zoo and Aquarium animal care staff arrived at work this morning, December 28, 2010 and discovered the anticipated birth of a baby bonobo. The baby, whose sex is still unknown, is the 12th bonobo born at the Columbus Zoo since the Zoo received its first bonobos in 1990 in conjunction with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for this endangered ape.
 
This is the third baby for mother “Ana Neema” who is caring for the newborn in the company of the other bonobos in her group including her offspring 9-year-old “Bila Isa” and 4-year-old “Gilda” who came with her from the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2008. Bonobos live in dynamic groups and confirmation of the baby’s sire, either “Toby” or “Donnie”, awaits the results of genetic paternity testing. There are only nine facilities in North America caring for bonobos and there are currently 16 bonobos at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. 
 
Bonobos and people share more than 98% of the same DNA; in fact, bonobos and chimpanzees are more closely related genetically to humans than they are to gorillas. The bonobo is the smallest of the great apes and is a separate species from the chimpanzee. Females give birth to a single baby after a gestation period of approximately 8 ½ months.
 
Bonobos were the last of the great apes to be discovered and is the rarest with only 5,000-50,000 living in the equatorial forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The primary threat to the endangered bonobo is human behavior, mainly habitat destruction caused by logging.  A secondary threat is the hunting of bonobos for bushmeat for native consumption and for sale to logging companies and markets.
 
For apes—gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons and siamangs—the outlook in the wild is bleak. Given severe loss of habitat and population declines, it is estimated that some ape species will be extinct within 20 years if immediate action is not taken. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a platinum member of the newly formed Ape Taxon Advisory Group Conservation Initiative which includes 40 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The initiative is funding eight field conservation projects including combating illegal wildlife trade in Central Africa and funding for sanctuaries that care for animals and also play a key role in law enforcement efforts and conservation education.
 
Recognizing the desperate situation bonobos face in the wild, the Columbus Zoo also supports the Congolese association ABC - Les Amis des Bonobos du Congo (Friends of Bonobos in Congo). ABC operates Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary, which has advocated for wildlife conservation in Kinshasa for the past 10 years. ABC's mission is "to contribute to the protection of bonobos in their natural environment through educational programs, advocacy work and the facilitation of behavioral research."
 

Over the past five years the Columbus Zoo and Partners in Conservation has distributed more than $4 million in conservation grants worldwide.
 
“Bonobos and other great apes desperately need our help” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Dale Schmidt. “Each and every time you visit an accredited zoo you are part of the solution and making a difference for wildlife.”
 
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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year.  General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+.  Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free.  The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.)  For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org