We make clothing for humans, but our inspiration is our closest living relative, the bonobo ape. To ensure that this remarkable primate has a secure place in our shared future, we're teaming up with Vanessa Woods and Lola ya Bonobo. Learn how you can help by visiting the Bonobos Orphan Project.
Deep in the heart of Congo are your long lost relatives. They share 98.7% of your DNA and many of the cognitive abilities that make you human, and yet they are more unknown than, say, a pair of pants.
Bonobos, along with chimpanzees, are the closest living relatives to humans. But while both humans and chimpanzees have murder and war, and live in societies where females are beaten and infants are killed, no bonobo has ever been seen to kill another bonobo. Infants are safe, females are in charge, and sex is like a handshake.
Bonobos live in a region of Congo called Equateur. One of the last great wildernesses on earth, it’s not uncommon to meet a chief in a leopard skin hat. It is here, where the Congo River sweeps in an upward rainbow towards the interior, that you will find a group of bonobos with a remarkable story.
They are all orphans. Born in these forests, their mothers were shot for bush meat and the orphans were smuggled thousands of miles in boats, backpacks, and cars, destined for the international black market. But luck was on their side, and the orphans were rescued and sent to Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary in the capital city of Kinshasa. After years of rehabilitation they were finally released back into the wild, and will now spend the rest of their lives being bonobos and swinging free.
Vanessa Woods is the author of The Bonobo Handshake.