Overview & Attractions
Lola ya Bonobo means 'paradise for bonobos' in Lingala, the main language of Kinshasa. In 2012, Lola ya Bonobo was home to 60 bonobos who live in 30 hectares of primary forest.
Typically, bonobos arrive as young infants. The bush meat trade in Congo sees hundreds of bonobos killed each year for meat and the infants are sold as pets. When confiscated, these infant bonobos are taken to Lola ya Bonobo. They begin 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 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 because it allows for 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.