Episode Information

NOVA: The Last Great Ape
Aired:
12/22/2009
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In this episode:

An expedition into the Congo examines one of our closest living relatives, the peace-loving bonobo

 


NOVA

The Last Great Ape

Aired Tuesday, 12/22 at 8:00 p.m. on CPTV

Deep in the Congo lives a little-studied group of apes called the bonobos. Like chimpanzees, bonobos are among humans' closest relatives. But unlike chimps, known for their violent behavior, bonobos are far more peaceful, even matriarchal. They embrace their neighbors and resolve conflict in an unusual way - by having sex. Much like humans, bonobos have sex not just to procreate, but for pleasure as well. The discovery of these more gentle ape traits has fascinated scientists and led them to question our origins and the roots of human nature as a whole. But in 1997, just as research on these elusive apes was getting off the ground, civil war broke out in the Congo. Bonobo researchers were forced to evacuate immediately, leaving behind the astonishing apes they were studying. Now, years later, NOVA returns to the Congo with veteran bonobo researchers who are worried that war and the bush meat industry may have decimated the bonobo population.

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