A Reflection on Claudine Andre, a Hero for Bonobos – Part II
In 2002, she opened “Paradise of the Bonobos,” just outside Kinshasa.
by Natasha Tworoski
[Please click here for Part I.]
In 2002, Claudine officially opened Lola ya Bonobo, “Paradise of the Bonobos,” just outside Kinshasa in a location that had previously been a hotel. Nurseries and expansive enclosures were created, what was previously a swimming pool was turned into a water filtration system, and the rescued bonobos finally had a secure place to call home. As the facility has grown, more jobs have become available to Congolese locals including positions in caretaking, commissary, maintenance, gardening and security. Lola ya Bonobo additionally has plans to develop two more enclosures on their 75 acres of land.
Like other apes, bonobos have long lifespans and can easily live into their 40’s in captivity. This longevity is a huge commitment for a facility to take on. Since Lola ya Bonobo is the only sanctuary available for orphaned bonobos, Claudine quickly realized she needed to do something to alleviate the pressure placed on the sanctuary. With this in mind, she formed Ekolo ya Bonobo to return some of the rescued bonobos back to the wild. Careful to select individuals that were not too dependent on human interaction, nine bonobos were chosen and in 2009, they were released at Ekolo. These introduced bonobos are still monitored today to ensure their safety. Since their release, three infants have been born into this now-wild group of bonobos, helping to ensure the species continues.
PASA is proud to have Lola ya Bonobo as one of its members and is honored to work with Claudine Andre as she continues her mission to let the world know about this incredible great ape species. If you would like to support Claudine and her team’s efforts to save bonobos, please visit her here.
A rescued bonobo, now an adult, lounges in an enclosure at Lola ya Bonobo. (Photo by Natasha Tworoski.)