Founded by Claudine Andre in 1994 Lola ya Bonobo is the only sanctuary in the world catering to the lifetime care of our closest primate relatives - we share 98.7% of tour DNA with them. Translating to 'paradise for bonobos' the refuge is a home to 52 bonobos who live in 30 hectares of primary forest. They are on the front line in the battle to protect these highly endangered primates in the only country they are found – The Democratic Republic of Congo. No one is sure how many are left in the wild but the number could be as few as 5,000 individuals.
It is illegal to sell bonobos. Without a sanctuary, there would be no way to enforce this law. There is currently a trade in bonobos who are sold as pets in Europe, USA, and the Middle East. Mothers and whole communities are killed for bush meat and a bonobo infant can sell for US $60,000 on the black market. When bonobos are confiscated by the police there must be somewhere to put them otherwise the animals will be killed or kept in cages. With the sanctuary, not only is there a safe, rich environment where the adults and rescued orphans can live a normal life, but some of these orphans may eventually be reintroduced into the wild. Over the years the orphans have given birth to young of their own - expanding the population of these protected animals.