Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best way for me to help save bonobos?
Make a donation! However, we recognize not everyone can give in this way. Another way is to become a
Bonobo Champ. You can use our secure, online platform to run your own fundraising campaign. It’s easy!
How can I help raise awareness about bonobos and the threats to their survival?
You can share our posts and invite your friends to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. IMPORTANT NOTE: You must credit and tag Lola ya Bonobo and avoid using any language or messaging accompanying our photos/videos that supports or promotes bonobos being viewed as pets. Not only are bonobos an endangered species, keeping them as pets is illegal. If you have any questions about what is appropriate, feel free to ask!
Do you have an adopt-a-bonobo program?
Not yet. If our staffing grows, we will consider adding a program that allows donors to support and get updates on a particular bonobo. In the meantime, you can join The Fellowship, our group of steadfast monthly givers. In the Fellowship, you become part of our community that is providing ongoing, stable support for bonobos at Lola ya Bonobo.
Volunteer, Visit, Work
How can I become a surrogate bonobo mom?
Caring for orphaned baby bonobos is a full-time job. In addition, it is important that we involve local residents in our conservation work. For these reasons, we hire only Congolese people to be bonobo surrogate moms.
Can I volunteer at Lola?
We welcome visitors but volunteer opportunities at the sanctuary in the DRC are scarce. And for the safety of the bonobos, we don’t have any volunteer positions that involve contact with them.
At times we can accept long-term volunteers (2 weeks or longer) who can offer professional services such as veterinary care, medical care in the field (in rural Congo), or services such as electricians, landscapers/gardeners, and builders. To offer a service, please email us at
Also, our U.S. office in Durham, NC, occasionally needs volunteers for communications and fundraising support. Email the U.S. office at
firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.
Do you offer sanctuary tours?
Yes. We offer both daily tours as well as an exclusive opportunity for visitors to stay at the sanctuary for up to two weeks. Please see our
Visit page to learn more about both options.
Can visitors interact with the bonobos?
You will be able to get very close if you visit the sanctuary, however, we do not allow direct contact with visitors due to the high risk of contagion (from humans to bonobos). Our goal is to release as many bonobos to the wild as we can, and for that reason, they have contact with humans only when it is necessary for their survival.
How can I get a job at Lola/are you hiring?
We do not currently have any available job opportunities for people who are not local to the DR Congo. If we do have anything available for people outside the DRC, we will announce it on social media and on our website and you are welcome to apply!
Can university students come to Lola to do research?
We welcome research proposals from PhD students, and in some cases, master’s students. Proposals should be for studies lasting three months or less. You can submit an abstract and cover letter, along with a letter of recommendation from your professor, to
Bonobo Life at Lola
How much does it cost per day to feed and care for one orphaned bonobo?
Approximately $12-$14 USD per bonobo per day.
How many bonobos are currently living at the sanctuary?
What are the most common illnesses or injuries you have to treat?
When bonobo orphans are rescued from poachers, they often arrive at Lola with problems such as internal and external parasites, dehydration, and malnourishment. They also suffer from psychological trauma due to violent separation from their mothers. At Lola, upper respiratory infections and the flu are the main risks to the bonobos, as these types of infections spread quickly in groups. Another big risk is encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), which is believed to be spread by rats and has no specific treatment. We keep cats at Lola to help keep the rodent population down.
What kind of enrichment do the bonobos get?
Enrichment often involves bonobos having to figure out different methods of obtaining their food. Popcorn kernels get stuffed into hollowed-out bamboo and nuts and sugarcane are hidden inside boxes. Other enrichment include swings, trampolines, climbing ropes, and hammocks that bonobo orphans use in the nursery.
How long do the bonobos stay at Lola before being released back into the wild?
Bonobos take time to grow up, just like humans, and they typically stay at Lola for years. Some will remain at the sanctuary for their entire lives. Whether a bonobo is returned to the wild, and when, depends on many factors including individual bonobo health or handicap, social relationships within the bonobo groups, events occurring in DRC, and human and financial resources for our rewilding program.
How do you know when they are ready to be released?
We look for a cohesive group headed by a mature and dynamic female, with a good range of male and female youngsters. We also watch for bonobo readiness: In the wild, females typically will seek to separate from their birth mother’s group sometime in their teen years.
Where do you release them?
We release bonobos at Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Reserve in Equateur Province, about 500 miles by plane from Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary. The protected reserve comprises 120,000 acres of dry and swamp forest, land traditionally owned by the Ilonga-Pôo and others, who are our partners on the project. We have a field station in nearby Basankasu.
How many bonobos have you released to the wild at Ekolo?
About Friends of Bonobos
Why are you asking for funds to be sent to the US and not the DRC?
Amis des Bonobos du Congo (ABC) is an international organization with sister associations in the US, France, Belgium and the UK. This website is managed by our US branch. In the US, donors get a tax deduction for donating to nonprofits such as ours. Non-US citizens often choose to give to Friends of Bonobos/Lola ya Bonobo
If you prefer to give to one of the other sister associations, please go to our
Contact page to find out how. If you would rather donate directly to our DRC bank account, please email us at
email@example.com and we will help you make that happen. Thank you so much for your questions and for your support!
In which parts of Africa can one find bonobos?
Only in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
How threatened are bonobos and what risks do they face?
Bonobos are an endangered species and protected by law. The main threats to them are illegal hunting for the bushmeat and pet trades and habitat loss due to deforestation.
How many bonobos are killed in the bushmeat trade?
We don’t know for sure, but because groups are cohesive and stick together in the face of threat, estimates are that a dozen or more adults may be killed for each bonobo orphan rescued from poachers.
What are the key differences between bonobos and chimpanzees?
Bonobos are often mistaken for chimpanzees, but there are many differences between the two. Bonobos live only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whereas chimps can be found across West and Central Africa. Bonobos live in female-dominant societies, while chimps live in male-dominated societies in which there is a clear hierarchy amongst the male chimps. Bonobos have never been seen to exhibit lethal aggression toward one another, whereas chimps have. Physically, bonobos tend to have a longer, leaner body structure while chimps tend to be more compact.
How are bonobo families structured?
Bonobo families are centered around females. Sons maintain lifelong relationships with their mothers, whereas daughters eventually emigrate from the family to find or form a new group. Within groups, females can gain status as they age and have more offspring. Furthermore, female-female bonds are key to their peaceful communities, because they join forces to fend off any aggressive males.
Do bonobos show empathy?
Bonobos have been seen to share food with bonobos outside of their families, without any incentives. When shown videos of other apes yawning, bonobos also yawned, a display of empathy common among humans as well. At Lola bonobos frequently hug and comfort another bonobo who is ill or new to the sanctuary.
How many bonobos remain in the wild and are they in protected areas?
Perhaps 5,000 to 17,000 bonobos remain in the wild. The exact number is unknown, however, experts say there may be three generations left in the wild at the current rate of decline. Eco-guards are in place to deter poachers and protect bonobos in some of the forests in the DRC.