For immediate release
Rare Female Bonobo Born at Jacksonville Zoo
April 26, 2011 - Jacksonville, Fl -
Officials at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the birth of a rare female bonobo in the Zoo’s Great Apes night house the morning of April 19, 2011. Lorel, the newborn’s mother and the matriarch of the bonobo group, was born April 17, 1969, at the San Diego Zoo and first came to the Jacksonville Zoo from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta in 1998. At the age of 42, she is the oldest bonobo to give birth to a viable offspring in North America and the third oldest living bonobo in the nation. DNA paternity testing with hair samples will be used to certify the identity of the youngster’s father. Mother and infant are doing very well and will rotate on exhibit opposite other groups as needed. The newborn’s name, Baker, was selected by Sarah and Brooks Watkins. The couple, who won the auction at the Zoo’s popular fundraiser, ExZOOberation, outbid all others to help support ape care. They named the bonobo after their son.
Bonobos were the last of the great apes, which also includes gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans, to be scientifically described, around 1929. They are among the most threatened primate species, with as few as 20,000 surviving in a single dwindling region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. There are only about 290 living in less than 20 zoos worldwide.
“Baker is a wonderful addition to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ family and a valuable asset to the conservation of the species,” said Deputy Director of Conservation and Education Dan Maloney. “Bonobos are very special creatures, highly intelligent, highly endangered and thoroughly engaging. We are very proud to be one of the few zoos to feature this amazing animal.”
For more than 96 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experience in a caring environment. Since its beginning in 1914, with an animal collection that consisted of only one red deer fawn, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has become one of the top zoos in the nation. It now features more than 1,800 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 unique plant species. Preservation of sustainable biodiversity is a key mission of the Zoo. The Zoo is a non-profit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is open year-round, seven-days-a-week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located on Jacksonville’s north side at 370 Zoo Parkway, one-half mile east from I-95. For more information, go to jacksonvillezoo.org.