Young bonobos offer comforting hugs and sex

by Ella Davies

Young bonobos console their fellow apes with hugs and sex, say scientists.

Although bonobos are known as the “empathic” apes, researchers previously thought that comforting behaviour was too complex for juveniles to grasp. But studies at the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary in DR Congo, revealed that the youngsters often consoled the losers of social squabbles.

Researchers also found that apes raised by their mothers were more likely to offer comfort than orphans. The results are published in the journal PLoS One.

Dr Zanna Clay, from Emory University in Atlanta, US undertook the study at the centre, near Kinshasa. The sanctuary rehabilitates rescued bonobos and is the largest of its kind in the world.

"I’ve spent a long time observing bonobos over the years, and have often noticed how much juvenile bonobos approach victims to comfort them," Dr Clay told BBC Nature…

(read more: BBC News)                   (photo: Zanna Clay)

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