5 min read

Baby Bonobo Can't Stop Staring At The Man Who Helped Save Her

She's finally starting to smile again, thanks to him.

Meet Esake. 

Baby bonobo saved from hunter

Esake is a baby bonobo and she's finally starting to smile again.

In this baby ape's case, the slightest hint of a grin, considering what she's been through in her short little life so far, is a sign of true resilience.

Orphaned baby bonobo

Late last month, Esake was spotted riding on the back of a bicycle, bound for a market in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At such a young age, Esake should have been attached to her mother. But nothing had gone the way it should have. 

Thankfully, someone noticed little Esake on this bicycle and knew something was wrong.

Baby bonobo saved from traffickers

They contacted local police who discovered that the bicycle was being driven by a hunter who was delivering a shipment of bushmeat. Esake's mother had been one of the hunter's victims, shot and killed with a poisoned arrow.

Often, the infants of killed apes are sold by hunters into the illegal pet trade. But Esake's fate would be different.

Soon, a man named HĂ©ritier Mpo, a community partner of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI), came into little Esake's life, and her face lit up when she saw him. 

Baby bonobo and rescuer

Esake was immediately attached to HĂ©ritier — but her journey was far from over.

The people at BCI were working quickly with another organization, Lola Ya Bonobo, to coordinate a place for the vulnerable little orphan at a sanctuary — but getting there, through the jungle, would not be simple. 

"Transportation is difficult and expensive in the DRC, and we must get Esake to sanctuary as soon as possible to ensure her health and safety," BCI wrote. "Bonobo rescues can also be dangerous to the humans involved."

While transporting Esake, HĂ©ritier ended up having a motorbike accident and hurting his leg — but he managed to keep Esake completely safe from injury. 

Rescuer with baby bonobo

"Esake has had a harrowing couple of weeks," BCI wrote. "Although traumatized and weak, Esake began to regain some strength [and] flourished under Héritier’s care. She readily took to drinking from a bottle and eating fruit."

HĂ©ritier and Esake's journey together finally came to an end when the little orphan was handed off to people who then brought her to the sanctuary in Kinshasa. Here, she'll grow up safe and strong, with others like her. 

"We are pleased to report that she arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday and is now getting adjusted to her new home!" BCI wrote. 

Against all odds, Esake is finally back in a place where she can belong — and that's certainly something to smile about. 

You can help more bonobos like Esake by signing this petition or making a donation to BCI