Bonobo Handshake


Image via Wikipedia

Dear Friends of Bonobos,

Within a week I have managed to fall head over heels in love with Bonobos. As I shared in my last post my theme for the rest of the month is love. Why? It’s simple, I’m in love. In love with everything around me. A small smile plays at the corners of my mouth as I watch some of my close family and friends struggle to work out the details. In love? With who? Since when? What did I miss?

It’s not a specific romantic love that I’m talking about. It’s the kind of love that has me bursting from the seams, overflowing and ready to pour out into those around me. I’m in love with life, I’m in love with my life and I’m in love with everything about it. I’m one of the lucky ones you know?

I just finished reading Bonobo Handshake by Vanessa Woods and The Ape House by Sara Gruen. Woods is non-fiction and Gruen’s is fiction but based heavily on facts. The two are good friends and they have both entered into the world of the Congo and these precious animals that live here and have become Friends of Bonobos. Woods pointed out that 80% of people are living on $10 a day, there are 25,000 children EACH day that die of poverty, since 1945 there have only been 26 DAYS without war, more than 1 billion people in the human population live with unclean water, in 2009 in the Congo over 250, 000 women reported being raped. I am definitely one of the lucky ones.

So the Bonobos are the closest living relatives to Humans, sharing 98.7% of our DNA. They live in one area of the Congo and are continually endanger of being extinct. The amazing thing about Bonobos is that people have tried for years to draw the connection between what makes humans and bonobos so different when they are so similar. I mean, it’s like they’re right there! They can do everything Humans can do, including understand our language and a few have been trained to communicate through American Sign Language, yet they don’t take off and start flying airplanes, running countries or developing a “civilized” society.  Woods really focuses on the difference that may be more of a choice of Bonobos. They are a female-dominated, peaceful society.  They are altruistic and unlike our other close relative, chimpanzees, they don’t use violence to gain their means. They share their food, they love one another truly, they mate because they want to (well, they definitely love sex) and they enjoy life.

Similar to chimpanzees many mistakes have been made with bonobos and although they are protected animals in the Congo they are not in the States and many biomedical researchers have used this species to try to find cures for human diseases these primates aren’t even susceptible to. Their story touches my heart because there are not even enough existing Bonobos to fill Yankee Stadium, yet every researcher, storyteller, vet and otherwise that has encountered them has had their life touched and changed forever by our closest living relative.

Love Always,


2 Responses to “Bonobo Handshake”
  1. Mark says:

    I’m cruising Bonobo info this afternoon and came across you blog including Bonobos. If you dig them like I do and wonder why we are so similar and so different you should really try the book ‘Sex at Dawn’ but Ryan & Jetha. It is amazing how the transition from being hunter foragers to farmers changed the way we really should view sex, love and raissing children. Mark

    • Sunny Dee says:

      Thank you Mark. I will read it. I’ve had a surprisingly difficult time finding books about Bonobos but I am very interested in them. Please continue to pass along any resources you may come across.

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