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Book's plea: Save the bonobos
Date:7/1/2008

A biologist at Washington University in St. Louis is the mastermind behind a project that has led to an informative book, aimed at children but appealing to all ages, on an endangered species of ape.

Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, is the driving force behind I'm Lucy, A Day in the Life of a Young Bonobo, written by Mathea Levine, Goodenough's daughter, and featuring the photographs of St. Louisan Marian Brickner. The book includes a convincing, impassioned Afterward by the famed primatologist Jane Goodall.

Goodenough forged collaborations with the book's participants, but also with field scientists, and created Blue Bark Press to get the work in print. The book sells for $19.95 and can be purchased on this Web site: www.bonobokids.org . All profits from I'm Lucy go to the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) and the Roots & Shoots program, non-profit organizations. The BCI seeks to preserve the bonobo population, found in the wild exclusively in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Africa.

No one knows how many bonobos are left in the wild, but it may be as few as 5,000, and there are estimates that unless humans intervene in their preservation and in maintenance of their habitat, the little apes could become extinct in the wild in less than a decade.

The bonobo, one of two species that make up the chimpanzee genus, Pan, is among nature's quaintest, cutest animals. Along with the common chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest relative to humans, with a genome that is 98 some say 99 percent similar to our own.

Bonobos are even being studied to see if they can actually understand human language. A famous bonobo, Kanzi, who is 27 years old and lives at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, mastered more than 200 words through keyboard lexigrams. When a word is spoken, he will point to the correct lexigram.

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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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