Saturday, November 10, 2007

Monkey Business in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 9, 2007
All of San Diego is sure to fall in love with its two newest residents: Mali and Tutapenda, baby bonobo monkeys born at the zoo there.

It's not just because they're completely adorable (month-old Mali even giggles like a human baby). They're part of an endangered species and their birth is a cause for true celebration.

According to Becky Kier, senior nursery keeper at the San Diego Zoo, "They're actually the most rare of all great apes. There's been some speculation that they might become extinct in the next 10 years if we don't do something about it and protect them."

Bonobos -- also known as pygmy chimpanzees -- are our closest living relatives. "They have just about 99 percent of the same gene makeup, DNA makeup, as humans do," said Kier.

Some of their behaviors are uncannily human -- when Mali is tickled, she reacts just like a human infant, said Kier.

"They giggle when you tickle them in the right spot, (but) it doesn't sound like a baby's giggle, it's more of a breathy chortle ... but they stick their tongue out and close their eyes, almost as if they're asking for it."

Bonobos are the smartest primates -- second to humans, of course -- and are raised in a matriarchal society. "In the bonobo society the women rule," said Kier. "There's usually a main matriarch and her sons will stay with her and her troop their whole lives."

Bonobos are only found in the wild in one place: the Republic of Congo. There, they are hunted, the babies sold. Because of that, bonobos are so rare that only five zoos in North America exhibit them.

"The San Diego Zoo wants to raise awareness about the bonobo," said Kier. "We're trying to get the word out for more people to care about them."

For more about the San Diego Zoo's Great Apes Awareness Week, click here.

From CBS News.


Abbey said...

Awww I can see why you love them...they are just the cutest damn things on the planet...x

Anonymous said...

Don't think any person can argue about their cutness!