Bonobo Friends Forever (BFFs) are individuals, entities, activists and advisors who champion the beloved bonobo.
Claudine grew up in Congo and has lived there her entire life. In 2002, Claudine founded Lola ya Bonobo just outside of Kinshasa which is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The sanctuary represents the first and only sanctuary in the world dedicated to protecting bonobos. Claudine and her staff have become the world’s experts in the rescue and rehabilitation of bonobos orphaned by the bushmeat trade. She now has over 70 rescued bonobos for which Lola ya Bonobo provide lifetime care. In 2009 Claudine conducted the first successful release of bonobos back into the wild. Over a dozen bonobos from Lola ya Bonobo now live freely again. They are thriving together in group in Ekolo ya Bonobo a preserve three times the size of Manhattan that Claudine has worked tirelessly to create and protect. Together with Dominique Morel, Claudine helped found the US NGO that helps support her efforts for Bonobos. She remains Vice President of the Board of Directors.
Dr. Frans de Waal
Franciscus Bernardus Maria “Frans” de Waal, PhD is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ashley Stone, founder of the Bonobo project first learned about bonobos in one of his Anthropology classes as an undergraduate student in the early 90’s at Emory University. He is the reason she fell in love with bonobos in the first place!
Dikembe Mutombo, a Congolese American, is an accomplished NBA player and humanitarian. In 2007, Dikembe opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in honor of his late mother in Kinshasa, DRC. Dikembe and his family visited Lola ya Bonobo in July 2014, where they learned more about the serious problems facing this extraordinary ape native only to the DRC.
Phil Gordon is an accomplished entrepreneur, poker player, author and philanthropist. His latest start-up venture is Chatbox, an easy platform for secure, private, collaborative communication with anyone. Phil has supported the Prevent Cancer Foundation and co-created Bad Beat on Cancer, which has raised over $3 million for cancer prevention research.
Urijah Faber is a UFC bantamweight American mixed martial artist. He is ranked #3 in the official UFC bantamweight rankings. Urijah is regarded as a pioneer for giving credibility to lighter weight classes in mixed martial arts. He is also a fan of bonobos since he became aware of their endangered status and unique ways of solving problems peacefully.
Shannon is an American actress and former fashion model. She is well known for her roles in comedy films such as American Pie, Scary Movie and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. She also is an animal lover to the core and a conservationist/activist in the making. Her nonprofit, Animal Avengers, founded in 2001, seeks to save as many animals on this planet as possible through strategic collaborations, financial aid, engagement with policy makers, hands on work in the field, and education and tactical planning/execution for the future.
Letter From President Clinton
Andy Dunn is the CEO of Bonobos Inc., the parent company of Bonobos (apparel) and Maide golf. Dunn has served as CEO since co-founding the Bonobos brand in 2007. In 2013 he launched golf apparel brand, Maide, under Bonobos Inc. In 2011 Dunn cofounded the angel investment firm, Red Swan Ventures, which is focused on building consumer Internet companies.
Started in 2007 by Stanford Business School graduates Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly, Bonobos was founded with the goal to provide men with better-fitting clothes. The company launched with khakis that eliminate “Khaki Diaper Butt” and they now offer multiple categories including casual and dress shirts, suits, swim, outerwear and sweaters, in addition to golf apparel under the company’s Maide label.
Amy Smart Oosterhouse
Amy Smart is an American actress and owner of Bonobo Winery in Traverse City, Michigan. The Bonobo Winery was founded by brothers and longtime Traverse City natives, Todd and Carter Oosterhouse. Their objective: to offer world-class wines in a rustic, yet elegant atmosphere with a breathtaking view, and a business model inspired by the close harmony of the traditions, philosophies, and ecological integrities of the region. Making a commitment to the community that raised them, they employ local residents and utilize local resources to create an ethereal experience that captivates all five senses, with each element intentionally representative of the beauty, charm and sanctuary that is Traverse City. They support the work and effort of the Bonobo Conservancy whose mission is to protect bonobos, preserve their tropical rainforest habitat, and empower local communities in the Congo Basin.
Deni Ellis Béchard
Deni Ellis Béchard is a journalist, novelist, memoirist, photographer, and activist. He is the author of five books, the first of which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was translated into French, Arabic, and Russian. His articles and photos—often about human rights, women’s rights, and the conservation—have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including the LA Times, Salon, The Guardian, La Repubblica, Vanity Fair Italia, The Solutions Journal, The Harvard Review, The Herald Scotland, and Foreign Policy Magazine. One of his photos has been exhibited in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. In 2013, he published Empty Hands, Open Arms: the Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral, which was released in Canada as The Last Bonobo: a Journey into the Congo and in the US as Of Bonobos and Men: a Journey to the Heart of the Congo.
Asher Jay is an international adventurer and creative conservationist, whose compelling paintings, sculptures, installations, animations, ad campaigns, and films all have a single purpose: to incite global action on behalf of wildlife conservation. Asher’s travels to the frontline have made her witness and story-teller, combatting illegal wildlife trafficking, promoting habitat sanctuaries and illuminating humanitarian emergencies. We are proud to have her join the effort to raise awareness for bonobos and to fight for their survival in the Congo!
Max Guinn, is the founder of Kids Eco Club, an organization of over 100,000 K-12 students, which raises eco-consciousness through school environmental clubs. Kids Eco Club supports 39 school clubs in the Congo, through Lola Ya Bonobo, to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and the bush meat trade. Max also blogs for the Green, Tech and Science sections of the Huffington Post.
Ian Michael Redmond is a tropical field biologist and conservationist. His career spans more than 30 years in which he is renowned for his work with gorillas and elephants. Best known for his work with mountain gorillas, Redmond has been involved in more than 50 documentaries on the subject for, among others, BBC, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Redmond was also involved in the film Gorillas in the Mist spending some time with Sigourney Weaver so she could better understand her character.
In 2013, Ian confiscating an illegal “pet” bonobo and transporting her to Lola Ya Bonobo. Click here to read more about his story and view the video.
James Tupper is a Canadian actor known for his roles as Jack Slattery on the ABC television series Men in Trees, Dr. Chris Sands on the NBC medical drama series Mercy, and David Clarke on ABC’s Revenge. As of autumn 2016, he is the star of the post-apocalyptic thriller Aftermath, on Space in Canada and Syfy in the U.S.
Steve Smith is an American retired basketball player who is currently an NBA and college basketball analyst. After a collegiate career at Michigan State University, Smith played with several teams in his 14-season NBA career, including the Miami Heat, the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs. He enjoyed a five-year stint with the Atlanta Hawks which included an All-Star Game appearance in 1998. Smith won an NBA championship title with the Spurs in 2003 and he rounded out his stellar career by winning an Olympic gold medal as a member of the USA Men’s National Basketball Team at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
In addition to an incredible basketball career, Smith is also well known for his charitable pursuits. He has donated a total gift of $3.1 million to his alma mater, Michigan State University, to fund the Clara Bell Smith Student Athlete Academic Center, named for his mother, as well as the Steve Smith Scholarship for Academic Achievement, which provides a four-year academic scholarship to one student per year from Smith’s former high school. In recognition for his generosity, Smith has received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and the Joe Dumars NBA Sportsmanship Award. We are thrilled that Steve Smith, a gentleman-athlete of the highest caliber, has agreed to be an advocate for bonobos alongside The Bonobo Project.
Bonobo Project Advisors:
Dr. Brian Hare Dr. Brian Hare is associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina and a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, which is a division of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.
Vanessa Woods is a New York Times Bestselling author, researcher and journalist. She is the author of the New York Times Bestseller The Genius of Dogs (Dutton 2013), and Bonobo Handshake (Gotham 2010), which won the Thomas Lowell Award for non fiction.
Dr. Richard Wrangham
Richard Wrangham (PhD, Cambridge University, 1975) is Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and founded the Kibale Chimpanzee Project in 1987.
Dr. Elizabeth Ross
Dr. Elizabeth Ross (PhD, Edinburgh University) founded the Kasiisi Project in 1997 to provide educational resources to schools surrounding the Kibale National Park in Uganda. She is currently the Executive Director of the Kasiisi Project and has greatly expanded the programs of the Kasiisi Project to include scholarships, literacy programs, teacher training, nutrition programs, health education, conservation education, and sustainable energy programs.