Press Release: 03/25/2015

Zookeeper Travels to the Congo to Help Care for Orphaned Bonobos

Nicky Mora, Senior Manager, Marketing/PR
(510) 632-9525 ext. 130

Oakland, CA …March 26, 2015 – On Thursday, March 26, 2015, from 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Oakland Zoo welcomes the public to attend a talk presented by zookeeper Natasha Tworoski. Ms. Tworoski recently returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she volunteered with baby bonobos. "Bonobos, an ape species best known for their capacity for empathy, are facing the threat of extinction in a country that is dealing with extreme poverty and ongoing political instability,” said Natasha Tworoski, Zookeeper at Oakland Zoo. “For almost three weeks, I followed staff at Lola ya Bonobo, the only sanctuary in the world that takes in orphaned bonobos, to see how the process of rehabilitating an infant ape works. My experiences there had a much deeper emotional influence on me than I had anticipated. Not only are the bonobos a charming, captivating species, but the kindhearted people working for Lola are as well, especially considering what they're accomplishing in the face of ongoing political unrest. Since very few people are familiar with bonobos, let alone the sanctuary and what it is accomplishing, I have returned very eager to spread the word about bonobos." Tworoski spent three weeks at Lola ya Bonobo, the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos.

Bonobos are one of the four great ape species, but unlike well-known chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, most people have never even heard of bonobos. These apes are highly endangered and live in only one part of one country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Because so few people know about them, Tworoski plans to talk about what a bonobo actually is and discuss their unique natural behaviors, most intriguingly how sex is used to strengthen social relationships. This talk will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Marian Zimmer Auditorium.

Lola ya Bonobo, the only sanctuary for wild bonobos in the world, rescues orphaned bonobos and raises them with the goal of releasing them back to the wild. This talk will discuss Tworoski’s experiences at the sanctuary, what the organization’s objectives are, and how they are accomplishing them, despite the country’s decades of political instability and violence. The main focus of this presentation is to raise awareness about bonobos, a species that needs help. Photos from Tworoski’s trip to Lola ya Bonobo can also be seen here.


The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks.