Conservation Through Education
The Congo Rainforest contains a fifth of the world's rainforest. No other African country has such a huge habitat for bonobos or their endangered cousins, chimpanzees and gorillas. Though we, as an international community must do what we can to protect this precious rainforest, ultimately, it is the Congolese who will decide its fate.
Sanctuary EducationAlthough the sanctuary is visited by people of all ages, ABC's target audience is the children. Many children visit the sanctuary with their families, but for those who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity, the sanctuary has reached out through its 39 “Kindness Clubs” (each at a different school in Kinshasa), and hosted visits by school groups. The Kindness Clubs exist to promote the humane treatment of animals by motivating our members to take practical actions to improve animal welfare and conservation. ABC does this through regular school visits by its education staff and by sponsoring trips to the sanctuary.
Arriving at the sanctuary, the children are greeted by one of our education staff members. The children are brought to our education center where they learn the basics of bonobo life, the risks to bonobos associated with the bushmeat trade, and the role they can play in protecting the bonobos and Congo’s wildlife. To help children understand how similar bonobos are to humans, ABC shows kids a short video in which the famous bonobo Kanzi works together with Sue Savage-Rumbaugh to solve complex problems. In addition, ABC educates them about the illegal bushmeat trade. The children then receive a guided tour of the sanctuary’s 2.5 km trails. They see bonobos playing in ponds or chasing each other through tree canopies, just as they would in the wild. Children, as well as adults, commonly remark that they never realized humans and bonobos were so similar.
Conveying a conservation message
Over the years, ABC has worked to improve its message about bonobos by conducting pre- and post-visit surveys. ABC has learned that children retain conservation messages best if they are presented with them in class a few days before they visit the sanctuary (it seems the excitement of the sanctuary can be a little overwhelming!).