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Bonobo (Pan paniscus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

Bonobo (Pan paniscus) Fact Sheet


Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Homindiae

Genus: Pan

Species: Pan paniscus - bonobo

Body Weight
Male: 39 kg (86 lb)
Female: 31 kg (68 lb)

Body Length
Both sexes: 700-800 mm (2.3-2.6 ft)

Black body hair; long and fine

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Central Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lowland rainforest
Other forest types

IUCN Status
Endangered (2016 assessment) (Fruth et al. 2016)

CITES Status
Appendix I (UNEP 2019)

U.S. Endangered Species Act

Population in Wild
Largely unknown. Minimum of 15,000-20,000 individuals, up to 50,000.

Walk on knuckles on ground. Also move through trees. Wade in water. Can walk bipedally.

Activity Cycle

Social Groups
Communicate through hand and foot gestures; also, vocalizations. Sexual behavior has social and reproductive functions.

Omnivorous. Fruit, leaves, seeds, some insects and small vertebrates (snakes, shrews, flying squirrels)


Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Thought to be around 9 years of age

231-244 days (sometimes longer)

Interbirth Interval
4-6 years

Birth Weight
2-3 lbs.

Age at Weaning
4-5 years of age

Typical Life Expectancy
Managed care: median life expectancy in males of about 31 years

Feature Facts

  • Similar ecology to chimpanzees- both are terrestrial and arboreal
  • Found only in the central portion of Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo Basin), south of the Congo river
  • Build nests in fruit-bearing trees
  • Grooming behavior and sexual behavior important in social dynamics
  • Extremely playful, even adults
  • Adults show high tolerance for young bonodos until puberty around age of 8 or 9 years
  • Bonobo society emphasizes female bonds but leaves room for male bonding
  • Few remaining in the wild, mainly in protected reserves and sanctuaries
  • The first pair of bonobos in the USA were at the  San Diego Zoo in 1962. The pair, Kakowet and Linda, produced 3 male and 7 female offspring over 18 years at San Diego

About This Fact Sheet

© 2009-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor update 2013. IUCN and CITES update 2019.


How to cite: Bonobo (Pan paniscus) Fact Sheet. c2009-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. bonobo
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)


Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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