Established in 1994 by Claudine Andre, Lola ya Bonobo (‘Paradise for bonobos’ in Lingala) is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. The story began in 1993, when a baby bonobo was bought to Kinshasa Zoo were Claudine was volunteering. She was told that like others before it, it will probably die. However, through dedication and patience Claudine saved the bonobo and before long locals were bringing her injured and abandoned bonobos.
The government then heard of this work and began to confiscate captive bonobos, whose capture and sale is illegal in Democratic Republic of Congo, and take them to Claudine for expert care. In 2002, because of ever growing numbers the charity moved to a forested 75 acre area just outside Kinshasa. In 2009 they organised the first-ever successful reintroduction of 9 bonobos back into the wild. Since the release there has been 3 wild births and a further 13 bonobos are planned to be released in June 2018.
Through the Conservation Welfare fund, Twycross Zoo helps with the daily running of Lola ya Bonobo, where currently over 70 bonobos live (2015). The sanctuary also participates in an education programme with the local communities, educating people on topics such as what a bonobo is, the impact of the bushmeat trade and that it is illegal to hunt and capture bonobos. Twycross Zoo has supported this project since 2007.