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Hippie Chimpanzees: Get Drunk and Eat
It’s a very sad world indeed when one is confronted with a sense of urgency when merely wanting to view wild animals in their native habitat. But, if you don’t move quickly, you may just lose that opportunity with the bonobo chimpanzee.
Only about 5,000 bonobo remain in the rainforests of Congo. This is due to a rather unfortunate fact: they’re good eatin’. The meat from a bonobo can fetch up to $200 from local restaurateurs, a rather hefty amount in this poor nation. As a result, hunters have taken to the forests with guns and bottles of alcohol. It seems the apes have an affinity for beer and once drunk, are easily caught as the alcohol dulls their brachiating abilities.
While getting apes drunk and eating them is a tragedy in anyone’s book, it seems far worse in the case of the bonobo because of their reputation as the “hippie chimpanzee.” They’ve earned this moniker through their embrasure of free love. When rival groups meet each other in the forests, they do so with “genital handshakes” and massages. If an argument results—which is hard to believe after such a greeting—it usually ends with a French kiss and a quickie in the forest. Afterwards they share a joint. Okay, just kidding about the last part, but you can understand how the tragedy of killing such creatures is made even worse by the caring and peaceful lifestyle they embrace.
Efforts to save the gentle beasts have resulted in the Bonobo Paradise Sanctuary in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa where workers rescue the animals from the menus of underground restaurants around the city. This is your best bet to spot the endangered chimpanzees, unless, of course, you head out to the forest with a couple bottles of Heineken.