Vanessa Woods

My Husband Fell in Love With a Bonobo

She had glossy black hair and eyelashes that arrived a minute before she did. She sashayed past me, threaded her fingers through my husband’s hair, and let her eyes work their magic. He was gone. Her name was Malou, and she had been found stuffed in someone’s hand luggage on the x-ray machine at an airport in Paris. Bonobos fetch up to $15,000 on the black market, and Malou was on her way to end up as someone’s pet in a cage in Russia. When airport officials discovered her, they almost euthanized her. But luck was on her side, and she was sent back to where she came from, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her mother had been shot for bushmeat, so Malou could not have survived in the wild. Instead, she arrived at Lola Ya Bonobo, the only bonobo sanctuary in the world and home to more than 60 orphans just like her. My husband and I were there studying how their minds were both similar and different to ours.

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