The Bonobo is geographically confined to a small zone of African primary forest on the left - southern - bank of the Congo River

It is found in Only One Country in the World  :

the Democratic Republic

Equateur, Bandundu and Kasai regions


It was only in 1928 that an American scientist named HAL COOLIDGE  identified this new species, based on observations of chimpanzee skulls at the Tervuren museum in Brussels.

Some years later, anatomist ERNEST SCHWARTZ gave the species its scientific name PAN PANISCUS, in contrast to the "ordinary" chimpanzee, named Pan Troglodytes.

Its current name, BONOBO, presumably originates from the distortion of the name of a village situated on the Congo River ... "Bolobo", where the first bonobo specimens came from.


Because of similar human-like morphological, physiological and behavioral traits, some anthropologists consider bonobos as the best living prototype of the common ancestors to humans and African apes : the Australopithecus. As explained in the book "The Forgotten Ape" by Franz de Wall

"Australopithecus afarensis"

Lived about 3.5 million years ago. This diminutive homicid had a chimp-sized brain but already walked upright, which indicates that in the course of human evolution bipedal locomotion came before brain expansion. We know too little about the behavior of this ancestor to be sure that males and females walked together as couples, as suggested by this reconstruction, but footprints found in Laetoli, Tanzania, confirm a well-developped bipedal stride"


It has been established through molecular genetic analyses that the Bonobo genus, Pan, is the most closely related to humans ; Bonobos share approximately 98 % of our genetic identity.

The morphological growth of Bonobos is similar to that of humans. For instance, young bonobos lose their milk teethes between 5 and 7 years, puberty is between 9 and 11 years and females have an ovarian cycle very similar to that of women.


source Waal

source Waal

Contrary to other species, which mate at specific, well-defined times during the female cycle, bonobos mate at all time, for pleasure.