Bonobo - The Pygmy Chimpanzee

Bonobos are closely related to chimpanzees. It is believed that they evolved from the same ancestor from whom the chimpanzees have evolved. There is fine line of difference between chimpanzee and bonobo. Bonobos are smaller and more gracile than their cousin chimpanzee. Because of this reason, it is also called as dwarf chimpanzee. They also have lesser hair on body in comparison to chimpanzee. It shares 97% of DNA similar to that of humans. Their social behavior and reproduction cycle is also similar to humans. Bonobo is an endangered species and is found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is in central Africa. This animal is omnivorous in nature. It feeds leaves, plants, fruits as well as insects, eggs and small mammals. In the captivity it has been seen that bonobos even eat other bonobo. However, it is not definite that this happens in jungle too. Bonobos spent their time on ground. They are incredible climbers and can be seen on top of the tree in search of food or to hide from enemies. At present only 10, 000-40,000 bonobos are left in the wild. The illegal hunting of this animal for meat and deforestation are the factors responsible for its declining population.

Bonobos and Chimpanzee

About 98.7% of both bonobos and chimpanzees share same DNA as humans. Unlike chimpanzees, bonobos are leaner and smaller in appearance. Bonobos are also peaceful and more social than chimps. Despite looking similar, the society of chimpanzee and bonobos are separate. Chimpanzee group is led by male however bonobo group is led by female. 


Bonobo Characteristics & Information

  1. The scientific name of bonobo is Pan Paniscus
  2. The lifespan of the animal is 40 years (as observed in captivity)
  3. The weight of male bonobo is 34 to 60 kg
  4. The height of the bonobo is 70 to 83 cm
  5. Bonobos resides in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  6. The bonobos have black colored fur which might turn to grey in old days
  7. Bonobos communities are peaceful and they believe in resolving conflict
  8. Bonobos always live in large community where the head of the community is female
  9. The female bonobo reaches sexual maturity at the age of 12 years
  10. The gestation period of the animal is 220 and 230 days
  11. Bonobo gives birth to single child per pregnancy
  12. Bonobo diet comprises mostly of herbivores food like fruits, leaves and plants. They also eat insects and small animals but they never hunt for meat unlike chimps.

Bonobo Animal Facts

  1. Bonobos are peaceful than chimps because male is not the head of the community
  2. At times of fight over food, chimpanzees tend to fight whereas bonobos share their food and hug to end the conflict
  3. Studies have proved that bonobos experiences same emotions and feelings as humans. Bonobos are capable of empathy, compassion, kindness and sensitivity
  4. Bonobos are darker in color than chimps
  5. Bonobos use social sexual contact to strength their friendship or relationship. They diffuse tension by having sex
  6. Bonobo is diurnal animal which means it is active at the daytime
  7. Bonobo thumb is separate from other fingers just like in humans. This helps them to give grip
  8. The main predators of the bonobo are crocodiles and humans
  9. Bonobos have upright skeleton. It walks on two legs
  10. At the time of sexual maturity, female bonobo will leave group and join another group for sexual relationship
  11. Female bonobo at least produces 5 and 7 babies in their full lifetime.


The bonobo is more comfortable walking on two legs than chimps. Bonobos have longer legs, narrower body and shorter arms. Their skull is round with flatter face. The lips of the animal are pink in color. The have long tail with tuft in the end which is retained till adulthood. Chimps retain their tuft till teenage stage.

Coat and Color

The bonobos have lesser hair on their body in comparison to chimps. The hair of the bonobo is parted from the center of its face. They have similar hand like humans. The thumb of the animals is separated to give it better grip and grasp. Bonobos are blacker than chimps.

Size and Weight

Female bonobo is smaller than male bonobo. Male bonobo is 34 to 60 kg in weight while female bonobo has an average weight of 30 kg. When adult bonobo stand on its legs its height is around 115 cm.



After humans, bonobos are the most intelligent animals. Bonobos experiences similar emotions like love, empathy, brotherhood and kindness as that of humans. They also laugh by tickling other bonobos while playing. Trained bonobos can also listen to music and understand human language. Bonobos believe in resolving dispute for togetherness of their group. They communicate with other bonobos by using various sounds. Bonobos have a habit of sharing food among the members of group. Just like humans, mother and child have a strong relationship with each other. The mother bonobo protects its child and teach it basic skills and manners. As compared to female child, male child is more dependent upon its mother for survival and livelihood. Male child is more vulnerable without its mother. When the female child attains the age of sexuality, it leaves group and joins other community in order to develop sexual relationship with male counterparts. Bonobos are also less aggressive than chimps. The most interesting fact about bonobos’ community is that their society is matriarchal. The elder female is the head of the group.


The lifespan of the bonobo is 40 years in captivity.



Bonobo eats plants, leaves, fruits, insects, honey, small mammals and few fishes. This animal doesn’t hunt animal for meat.


The first and the most dangerous predator of bonobo are humans. Humans have decreased their jungles by deforestation and irrigation of land in order to grow crops. They also kill this animal for its meat. The bonobos also have danger from crocodiles. As the bonobo live in wild so they have threat from Leopards too.


Bonobos live in heart of Congo Basin rainforests of central Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the past 30 years their population has declined to a great extent. If you think only birds live in nest, you’re highly wrong. The bonobos prepare nest to sleep at night.

Bonobos Reproduction

The gestation period of bonobos is 8 months (220 and 230 days). A female bonobo get mature for sexual relationship when she is 12-13 years old. Generally, they give birth to single child per pregnancy. They give birth to 5 to 6 child in their life. The mother cares for offspring till it is 4-5 years old. Male offspring remains in mother group for lifetime but female offspring has to leave the maternal group and join another group for mating.