The Des Moines based Great Ape Trust has its first baby bonobo. Teco was born Tuesday evening after an usually long 72 hours of labor from the mother, Elikya.
William Fields, director of scientific research at the Trust, says bonobos are an endangered species and only live in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “There are very few bonobos in the world whether they’re free ranging or in captivity,” Fields told Radio Iowa. “The fact that we are able to contribute to the population of bonobos…Iowans should be very proud of that fact.”
There are 150 bonobos in captivity, half of them in the U.S. Teco is the son of Kanzi. His name comes from Townsend Engineering Co. The business was formerly owned by ape trust founder Ted Townsend.
Fields says Teco will be raised at the Trust – where researchers study the bonobo’s communications skills. “Bonobos are different from chimpanzees in the fact that bonobos engage in shared rearing,” Fields said. “While the baby, right now, is exclusively with the mother, it won’t be very long before Elikya will be sharing the baby with other females in the colony.”
The birth was unusual for a couple of reasons. Elikya spent 72 hours in labor. Fields says four hours would have been typical. In addition, Elikya self-delivered Teco. “We were right there with her and she was very happy for us to be right next to her,” Fields said. “But anytime we tried to assist, she stopped us. She self-delivered this baby and she knew exactly what she was doing. We’re very impressed with her.”
The Great Ape Trust now has seven bonobos. There’s no word on Teco’s weight or length, but Fields says he’s a big baby with a large head.