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Places Features

You are in: Leicester > Places > Places Features > Bili the Baby Bonobo

Bili the bonobo

Bili the Baby Bonobo

Find out what happened to one very special little resident of Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire when his mother rejected him.

It's difficult  when a mother rejects her baby - when do you step in to help and what other help is available?

"It is really sad for him to go so young. You try not to get attached but you do."

Liz Cubberley, Keeper at Twycross

Well, in Maringa the bonobo ape's case her baby Bili was taken away last week after she failed to look after it properly, and the baby was sent from Twycross Zoo to live in Germany with foster parents.

Listen: Bili the Baby Bonobo

BBC Leicester's Bridget Blair has been to the zoo to find out what happened to Bili...

The bonobos at Twcross are the only ones in the UK and part of an international breeding programme.

They are humankind's closest relatives, along with chimpanzees - sharing over 99 per cent of the same genetic make-up.

Bili and a keeper

A Mother and Child

Although she made an effort to keep the small bundle warm, the young mum Maringa struggled to feed and handle Bili correctly after his birth in October.

Kim Riley from the zoo said that after the other bonobos rejected Bili the Twycross staff were forced to care for him themselves - a situation that caused strong bonds to form.

She says: "Although this is wrong, we do not want any of the animals to grow up with a human link.

"So the best thing to do is to send him to Frankfurt where he can grow up in a group and with a mother who will be looking and caring after him correctly."

In Germany Bili will live with female bonobos who have been trained to hand-rear young apes who are not their own.

Liz Cubberley, who cares for 11 bonobos at the zoo, added, "It is really sad for him to go so young. You try not to get attached but you do."

Bili the bonobo

Ape on a Plane

Of course anyone emigrating to Europe must have a passport - and Bili was no exception!

He was quite happy on the plane, sitting in the best seat  - on a Frankfurt keeper's lap.

Now the staff at Twycross are just happy that Bili will be accepted amongst his own kind.

One member of staff says: "We haven't had a postcard, but we've had lots and lots of photographs of him going over on the plane, and photographs of him being there with the keeper and looking at the new group he's going to be with."

last updated: 02/02/2009 at 13:29
created: 29/01/2009

You are in: Leicester > Places > Places Features > Bili the Baby Bonobo



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