The 21-seconds-long clip features a primate named Lana relishing a little playtime with her 9-month-old granddaughter Amali, who appears to be thoroughly enjoying being showered with kisses.
An adorable video posted by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden this week is spreading smiles across the internet. The now-viral video gained nearly 876K views and 46k likes on Facebook in just over a day as the sight of a bonobo lovingly playing with her baby granddaughter tugged at the heartstrings of netizens. The 21-seconds-long clip features a primate named Lana relishing a little playtime with her 9-month-old granddaughter Amali, who appears to be thoroughly enjoying being showered with kisses. Zoo visitors are heard making an audible "awww..." in the video while witnessing the almost human-like interaction between the pair.
It isn't surprising that the bond between Lana and Amali seems so familiar as, according to the Cincinnati Zoo, "bonobos are human's closest living relatives, sharing over 98% of the same DNA. Next to humans, they are the most intelligent animal on the planet." Formerly called the pygmy chimp, the bonobo is slightly smaller than the common chimpanzee and stands between 2.3 and 2.8 feet while weighing as much as 86 pounds. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, leaves, flowers, fungi, eggs, and small animals. Bonobos are capable of making and using tools, a characteristic that once distinguished humans from other animals.
"Bonobos are extremely gregarious, seeking the company of others of their kind and, unlike other apes that tend to be more cautious and sometimes aggressive when joining each other initially, diffusing tensions through embracing, extra vigorous grooming and sexual behavior," said Cincinnati Zoo Curator of Primates Ron Evans. Lana and her daughter Kesi came to the Cincinnati Zoo from San Diego Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). Bonobos are rare in zoos—with only 90 bonobos in North America, housed in seven zoos—and critically endangered in the wild, making thoughtful population management key to the survival of the species.
The primates are often shifted between institutions "in order to ensure the genetic diversity of the population in human care, meet the animals' need for varied social interactions, and to learn more about their behavior." Explaining the importance of doing so, Evans said: "It's expensive and logistically tricky to move animals, especially when we're talking about managing them on an international level. We do it because we're committed to cooperative, proactive collaboration and doing whatever it takes to boost the bonobo population in the wild and in our institutions." The few bonobos left in the wild are seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are considered one of the most endangered of the great apes.
Amali was born to first-time mom Kesi on July 23, 2020, as "the latest baby to arrive post-quarantine." The adorable bonobo followed a string of 2020 births that included "a king penguin chick, Pocket the wallaby, a red panda cub, more flamingo chicks than any other year, a red-crowned crane chick, a colobus monkey, skunk kits, and dead-leaf mantises." Speaking of the flood of births at the zoo, Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard said: "We usually celebrate Zoo Babies month in May, but we’re seeing a surprisingly large second wave of births this year. We joke about COVID quarantine being the cause, but the animals didn’t actually spend any more time than usual together during the lockdown. We did our best to keep their routines the same."