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Zoo introduces newest addition, holding naming contest

An 8-week-old bonobo (pronounced bah-NO-bow) made her official debut to the public today at the Cincinnati Zoo.  The baby girl was born November 17 to mother "Kimia" and father "Vergil."  This is the zoo's eighth bonobo birth. 

Infant bonobos are born almost helpless and have to be carried everywhere by their mothers for the first two years.

The Cincinnati Zoo is only one of eight zoos in the country to exhibit bonobos.  There are few of them left in the wild.

"They're so endangered in the wild," said Senior Jungle Trails Zoo Keeper Janet Hutson.  "There's estimated between 20,000 and 50,000, which sounds like a lot, but it's really not enough to keep genetic diversity going."

Here are some other interesting facts from the zoo:

  • Formerly known as the pygmy chimp, the bonobo is slightly smaller than the common chimpanzee.
  • Bonobos stand between 2.3 feet and 2.8 feet, and can weigh as much as 86 pounds.
  • The bonobo shares more than 98 percent of its DNA with humans, making it our closest living relative.
  • Like humans, they live in family groups and are highly intelligent.
  • Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, leaves, flowers, fungi, eggs and small animals.

The zoo has kicked off a naming contest for the baby.  It's accepting name suggestions on its Facebook page through February 7.  On February 10, the zoo will post the top three finalists for a public vote.