bonobo looking right.


Females rule!


giant panda



Map highlighting Central Africa

Central Africa

Endangered Status



27 to 33 in
from head to rump
A soccer ball is 9 inches high.
Bonobo next to a soccer ball
plants, more

Bonobos eat mostly fruit, leaves, and stems. Sometimes, they also eat worms, insects, and small fish. 

rain forest


Bonobo vs. chimp

Not a chimp

Scientists once thought the bonobo was just a smaller version of the chimpanzee, and they called it a “pygmy chimpanzee.” But don’t be fooled! Bonobos and chimpanzees are two completely different species. For one thing, bonobos are more slender. They have smaller heads and smaller ears. Both species are members of the great ape family, along with gorillas and orangutans.

Adult bonobo tickling youngster

Mom's in charge

In bonobo society, females take charge. Youngsters stay close to Mom for several years while they grow and learn how to be a part of bonobo society. A daughter becomes independent, but she shares a close bond with her mother. A son stays with his mother all his life and relies on her for protection. Bonobo groups teach their young social skills, use tools, and work together for the good of the entire troop.

Bonobo gathering leaves

Good night rest

Nests aren't just for the birds! Bonobos use leaves and twigs to build sleeping nests in the forks of trees each evening. They builds their nests close to other group members. This way, they can help each other look out for predators such as leopards and snakes.