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Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape

Frans de Waal and Frans Lanting

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Demonstrate ability to put themselves in position of others: Zoo bonobos with a dry moat which had a chain hanging down for them to climb out. One of the lower males would wait until the dominant male went down, and then pull the chain up. On several occasions the partner would rush over and lower the chain again and stand guard until mate had got out.

Males appear at feeding sites first, but give way to females as soonas they arrive. So they arrive first, not bc they are dominant, but bc they have to eat as much as poss before females displace them.

Generally, (in the wild) bonobos less interested in researchers than other way round. Except juveniles, who can approach just out of curiosity. They will move through trees until right above, then either throw sticks at watchers, or urinate on their heads, to see how react.

Chimpanzees share food, particularly meat, with other males, probably for obvious political reasons - they helped, and you want them to help next time. And share with females, usually for sex.

But with bonobos, females control the food, and males don't share. Grab and keep what they can.

We've romanticized bonobos, but all animals are competitve by nature, and only co-operate under specific circumstances, and for specific reasons, not bc of a desire to be nice to each other.

When two groups of bonobos meet, copulation between males and females of different groups common in the first 15 minutes of encounter.

We revere animals such as the busy bee, which conform to the way we would like to be, and revile animals such as the greedy pig, with urges we would like to suppress. Bonobos throoughly upset the idea that sex is solely for procreation.

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