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Meet Mpongo

Mpongo 3_April 2021 Lisa Murray (2)_edited.jpg



Arrival Date:

Age at Arrival:

Surrogate Mama:

Fun Facts:


Sankuru Province

April 6, 2020

3 years


Mpongo loves hugs and tickles!

Mpongo's Rescue

Mpongo came to us in early April of 2020, just as the world was dissolving into COVID chaos and the sanctuary was in full lockdown. This sweet little girl was rescued from Sankuru by the NGO, Conserv Congo, after they got a tip about a man in possession of a baby bonobo. As local authorities prepared to confiscate the bonobo and make an arrest, investigators learned that the man claimed he was a hunter who had saved Mpongo from his dogs. While there was no way to know the truth, we were grateful he complied and willingly handed over Mpongo. Although we can’t be sure what happened to Mpongo’s family, poaching is common in the area where she was rescued and it’s likely that they were killed for bushmeat. 

Mpongo with Jonas and Yvonne in the infirmary. 2020. (1).jpeg
A Special Arrival

Mpongo’s arrival at Lola ya Bonobo was unique. The sanctuary had strict quarantine measures in place and the head veterinarian, Jonas Mukamba, went alone to the airport to greet her, clothed in head-to-toe PPE. Mpongo was the only individual (human or bonobo) allowed into the sanctuary during April 2020, and her arrival was met with jubilation during an otherwise intense and stressful time. 

Mpongo was paired with Yvonne Vela, joining Esake and a long line of Mama Yvonne’s bonobo charges. Yvonne’s experienced care quickly won her over, and to this day, she loves getting hugs and tickles from her substitute mom. 

In November 2021, Mpongo and four of her friends (Tshimbulu, Diyoko, Omandja and Lolabu) graduated from the nursery and joined the adult and older juvenile bonobos in Enclosure 2.  

Mpongo sitting, playing with Yvonne. Photo by Sebastien Birr, 2020. (1).JPG
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