Columbus Zoo Farwell Toby the Bonobo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: February 19, 2022 12:09 pm

Bonobo Passing Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Toby the bonobo is pictured at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Amanda Carberry/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are farewelling one of the founders of their bonobo conservation program, Toby. He was estimated to be 42 years old well surpassing the median life expectancy of 31.2 years for this species.

Toby suffered for a number of years with high blood pressure and on Wednesday afternoon suffered a significant stroke following which he did not regain consciousness. Care staff at the zoo attempted emergency interventions but concluded he would not recover and made the decision to euthanize him.

He was one of four bonobos which arrived at the zoo in November 1990 from the Limburgse Zoo in Belgium. As part of the globally managed bonobo population he was considered the second most genetically valuable male.

During his time at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Toby became a father to three infants. These include female, Elikia (born in 2000 to mother, Lucy, and who since passed away at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2016); male, Andy (born in 2004 to mother, Lucy, and now lives at the Fort Worth Zoo); and female, Lola (also born in 2004 to mother, Susie, and now lives at the Milwaukee County Zoo).

Toby is being remembered by keepers for his "squeals and grunts of excitement (especially when he had a mouthful of food and biscuits); the way he nodded his head and reached his hand out to greet his care team; how he spent quality “boy time” with Gander (an adorable duo with one of the smallest males hanging out with one of the largest males); his friendly, easy-going nature and ability to bring a smile to everyone’s faces; and for being the king of “bed head” due to his “crazy” hair," according to a release from the zoo.

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Columbus Zoo are one of only eight facilities in North America where guests are able to view a family of bonobos. They help to raise awareness for the last ape species discovered by humans having only been described for modern science in 1929.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) list the species as endangered due to habitat destruction for logging and bush meat hunting. Their current population is estimated at between 5,000 and 20,000 individuals.

Columbus Zoo provide support for this species by donating funds to Lola ya Bonobo, the world’s only sanctuary for the species. The sanctuary have worked on the only successful reintroduction of bonobos back to their native range.

“Bonobos are gentle, playful, and highly-intelligent, and—unfortunately—still very much in need of conservation support and awareness as they continue to face serious threats in their native range. We are proud that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium serves a direct role in working to protect them and contributing to knowledge about this rare species. Toby was beloved by his Animal Care team and our guests, and he will always hold a very special place in our hearts. As one of the original founders of the Columbus Zoo’s bonobo program, Toby had a tremendous impact on the future of his species,” said Audra Meinelt, curator of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Congo Expedition region.

Learn more about Bonobos here - Bonobo Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Columbus Zoo on their website – Columbus Zoo

Bonobo Passing Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Toby the bonobo is pictured at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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