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Date of birth: November 2, 2000
Place of birth: In captivity, Valencia
Arrival at MONA: July 2002

Bongo’s story

Bongo came to the centre with Waty when he was 2 years old. They were in very bad shape – skinny, malnourished and very traumatized. They were confiscated from their previous owners because the chimpanzee trainer who used to rent them for advertisements, circuses and television programs did not have the correct papers. When we went to rescue them, Bongo was in a cage the size of a microwave.


Due to the early separation from his mother, Bongo was very insecure. He was so traumatized that he did not trust anyone. He was insular and spent many hours stress-rocking and sitting on one leg, which would, in turn, affect his movement. At first he didn’t dare to laugh and concealed laughter when he was tickled. Until the age of seven he lived with The old Family Group, and Romie, the old lady of the group. Romie exercised the role of his foster mother, and even taught him how to eat solids (because since his rescue he would only feed from bottles).


Today we can say that Bongo has overcome all of his problems. He’s never returned to the stress-rocking or the strange sitting posture he used to exhibit and nowadays laughs loudly when he plays. From a young age he’s been completely black and has become a spectacular chimpanzee with great athleticism and intelligence.

His social life

He belongs to The Mutamba Group. A couple of years ago, during one night, he defeated the dominant male at that time, Marco. But he doesn’t seem to be able to take the alpha position completely, probably because he’s just a teenager and doesn’t inspire enough confidence in the other group members yet to occupy such an important position.


  • He loves to impress everyone with his strength and does not care whether the spectators are human, his male companions, or his family group neighbors; he does not discriminate!
  • Bongo is one of the few chimpanzees at MONA who likes to make a sleeping nest in a different position almost every day (in the wild, chimpanzees never re-use a nest, but in captivity they usually have a preferred place for the night).

Fun Facts

  • When visitors come to MONA, Bongo sometimes welcomes them by throwing dirt over the fence.
  • When Bongo makes a display of strength, he always starts by “blowing a raspberry” (a noise), and finishes by doing some impressive jumps and thumping his chest.
  • When Bongo’s having dinner, he always asks Toni for some of his rice.
  • When caregivers need a chimpanzee to help remove the straw that sometimes blocks a sliding door from one area to another, Bongo is always the first to help and very happy to do so!

Bongo’s group

He is part of the group we call the Mutamba*.

Mutamba: Strychnos spinosa is a native tree of tropical and subtropical Africa. After the rainy season it produces a sweet, juicy yellow sour fruit, a supplemental source of food for the rural population and a highly nutritious fruit that also feeds many animals, including the monkeys. In fact, it is also named “spiny monkey-orange”.

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