Who are Bonobos?
Bonobo belong to the genus Pan. The two species belonging to the genus Pan are Pan troglodytes (chimpanzee) and Pan paniscus (bonobo)
Bonobos are found only south of the Congo River and north of the Kasai River (a tributary of the Congo) in the humid forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo of central Africa.
Difference between Bonobos and Chimps -
The bonobo is slimmer, with a smaller skull, shorter canines and tufts of lighter fur, compared to chimps.
This is where the bonobos differ from chimps the most. Bonobos are kinder and gentler than the chimp.
Can Bonobos be kept as pets?
I would say, well definitely, why not?
Before going further I want to share some facts from the following article:
Dmitri K. Belyaev, a Russian scientist, may be the man most
responsible for our understanding of the process by which wolves were
domesticated into our canine companions.
He started his experimentation by attempting to domesticate wild
foxes. Belyaev and his colleagues took wild silver foxes (a variant of
the red fox) and bred them, with a strong selection criteria for
In each generation foxes that were least fearful and least aggressive
were chosen for breeding. In each successive generation, less than 20
percent of individuals were allowed to breed.
The result of this breeding program conducted over more than 40
generations of silver foxes was a group of friendly, domesticated
The domesticated foxes were more eager to hang out with humans,
whimpered to attract attention, and sniffed and licked their
caretakers. They wagged their tails when they were happy or excited.
(Does that sound at all like your pet dog?) Further, their fear
response to new people or objects was reduced, and they were more
eager to explore new situations. Many of the domesticated foxes had
floppy ears, short or curly tails, extended reproductive seasons,
changes in fur coloration, and changes in the shape of their skulls,
jaws, and teeth. They also lost their "musky fox smell."
Now can we apply this fox and dog analogy to chimps and bonobo? According to researcher Brian Hare, definitely.
I want to share some facts from the following article:
Popular theory first put forward by Brian Hare -
bonobos are “self-domesticated” apes.
Now I want to share some facts from the following article:
Rape, murder and warring neighbors are all regular aspects of chimp
life. Bonobo societies, however, are far more peaceful. Hare thinks
that the chimplike ancestors of bonobos found themselves in an
environment where aggressive individuals fared poorly. By selecting
for the most cooperative ones, evolution forged a "self-domesticated"
ape, just as Belyaev produced domestic foxes by picking the most
Bonobos and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor between one
million and two million years ago, after the formation of the Congo
River separated one population of apes into two.
Both groups faced very different environments. the northern
population, which would eventually become chimps, had more competition
from gorillas for their food. They were forced to compete fiercely
with one another for whatever was left. Females got a particularly
short shrift, and were easily overpowered by males for both sex and
In bonobo-land in the south, the story was different. The river would
have protected the ancestors of bonobos from gorillas. With more food
to go around, females could gather in larger groups, form tight social
bonds, and better resist the advances of males. In this land of
plenty, the least aggressive males, who opted for alliances rather
than brute force, were most likely to mate. South of the river, the
nicer apes thrived.
As a result they started maturing more slowly. Many domestic animals
evolved to become less aggressive by slowing the pace of development,
so adults retained juvenile traits. For example, as Belyaev’s foxes
became tamer, their minds and bodies became more like those of puppies
than wild adults.
The same thing probably happened as domestic dogs and bonobos evolved
from their respective ancestors. Their physiques changed—faces became
shorter, skulls shrank, sex differences narrowed, teeth shortened and
sections of their fur lost coloration. Their bodies responded to
stress in a more muted way. They behaved differently, playing,
grooming and mating more often. The tamer generations also became more
sensitive to social cues. Simply by maturing more slowly, they all
evolved the same set of domesticated traits.
Here an important point to mention.
According to article :
Chimpanzee and monkey infants are irresistibly cute, and it might seem
that raising one would be just like raising a human child. As infants,
chimpanzees are affectionate, needy, and a delight to interact with.
But chimpanzees grow up fast, and their unique intelligence makes it
difficult to keep them stimulated and satisfied in a human
environment. By age five they are stronger than most human adults.
They become destructive and resentful of discipline. They can, and
will, bite. Chimpanzee owners have lost fingers and suffered severe
Does it sound similar? Like what always happens in domestication, the bonobos slowed down their pace of development so that adults retained juvenile traits.
The following article mentions in great details about keeping bonobos as pets:
Bonobos have a female-dominated society where very little violence
happens. What violence that does take place tends to happen when a
male becomes aggressive and the females gang up to put him in his
Instead of violence, bonobos run their society through the
near-constant exchange of sexual favors. Bonobos are the only
non-human animals to have been observed engaging in face-to-face sex,
tongue kissing, and oral sex.
Adolescent female bonobos have clitorises that are three to four times
bigger than those of adolescent girls. So large, in fact, that they
are easily visible, and waggle while they walk.
The bonobos need those big clitorises. Females frequently have sex
with other females, usually every two to three hours.
When a group of bonobos finds a new food source, their excitement
often results in a group orgy. When two separate tribes encounter
each other, rather than fight it out like chimps do, the bonobos tend
to mix it up with yet another orgy, swapping individuals between
groups. That gets everybody relaxed and on the same page.
So in nutshell, Chimps = violence. Bonobos = sex.
On a lighter note, the best part of the article -
Rather than worry about your chimp suddenly deciding to rip your face
apart, or tear your arms off and beat you to death with them, with a
bonobo, your main worry is that your favorite pet might become a
little too fond of you. And really, that would be kind of a good
problem, wouldn't it?
So why not take a bonobo as pet? If we can take dogs as pet, surely we can take bonobos as pet as well?