Peace Chimps Known for Intimacy and Tolerance

No, they aren’t hippies wearing tie-dye and peace symbols, but bonobo chimps, aka pygmy chimps, could be mistaken for them. They are believed not to engage in violence like their larger cousins do, and researchers have concluded it is because their social culture is so focused on intimate relations.

A researcher who has studied them said there isn’t a single documented case of a bonobo killing another bonobo, whether in the wild or captivity. They appear to focus their energy on group cohesion and physical touching, rather than aggression and domination. “Whenever things get tense in the bonobo world, they’ll usually have some kind of sociosexual activity and this seems to really help everybody get along. But another one of the ways that they sort of have this peaceful society is they’re naturally more tolerant. They share more, and if one of them gets upset, it’s not just sex but they can also hug and comfort one another,”  said anthropologist Brian Hare. (Source: National Science Foundation)

Females in bonobo society are treated more respectfully and they also are well-bonded with one another, two conditions researchers have said that mean males don’t have to compete with one another as much. Instead they participate in a similar manner sharing intimacy and partners. Also a male’s rank in the social hierarchy may be determined by the rank of his mother, rather than by defeating or intimidating other males. It is thought they use physical intimacy not only of social bonding, but also to reduce stress.

Author Vanessa Woods said, “They’re different because they’ve managed to live in a society virtually without violence. How do they do that? Humans, for all of our intelligence and all our technology, we haven’t managed to live without war, and so I think that’s something very important that bonobos can teach us.” (Source: National Science Foundation)

Tragically, bonobo chimps can be found in the wild only in the Congo, where humans have been at war for years. The human war’s impact has put the bonobos in jeopardy, to the point they are an endangered species. There may only be 29,000 to 50,000 left due to habitat loss and hunting for the bush meat trade. Due to the human violence it has been very difficult to study them, so none of the estimates are considered particularly credible.

(The number of human lives lost in the Congo conflicts has been estimated to be 3.9 million since 1998.)

Image Credit: Kabir Bakie

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115 comments

NO NEWS FWD FOR Ana Marij

Every day I learn something new from my dog ​​...
Every day I discover how little I know about him and how much I have to learn ... and he was so patient teacher.
I am grateful for this lesson ...
I believe that the experience of learning from them (bonoboa) is very deep ...

KS Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

colleen p.
colleen p.4 years ago

totaly right. Too bad teen boys could be brats, having a cute little slender boytoy for when I'm irrate would be fantastic. If the chimps have sex with minors and we should learn from them. then why is it bad to say "I want a 16 year old sex toy...when they get older and turn into real men they aren't pretty anymore". where to get a reverse cougar.

*buzzer* beep...wrong?
you folks are no fun.

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

much to be learned from them.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

They use sex for everything, grandparents with young, same sex, inter family etc. they are fascinating and a lot of research is done on them by a Dutch scientist whose name I forgot!

colleen prinssen
colleen p.5 years ago

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/10/081013-bonobos-attack-missions.html what? they still kill and eat meat? I guess we need a new primate to look up to.

Hope Holtum
Hope Holtum5 years ago

so sad so few people have heard of them... we should get the word out!

Vera Y.
Vera Yuno5 years ago

extremely sad they are in jeopardy.....chimps are so lovely cute, so sad

colleen p.
colleen p.5 years ago

mass orgies and not fighting? I think humans are more inclined for agression. like the other chimp and dolphins.

unless tv documentary wasn't a real study. but seeing an adult and juvinile rub up against each-other sexually won't work for humans.

but because it's not "about sex" it would?

but rubbing up against a minor for a sexual enjoyment is wrong.

but not to "sooth tensions"

Khat Bliss
Past Member 5 years ago

So sweet and sad they are in jeopardy...we need to learn and preserve such a beautiful example of animal behavior.