Send to

Choose Destination
Primates. 2014 Oct;55(4):533-42. doi: 10.1007/s10329-014-0436-0. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Female sociality during the daytime birth of a wild bonobo at Luikotale, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Author information

Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103, Leipzig, Germany,


Parturition is one of the most important yet least observed events in studies of primate life history and reproduction. Here, I report the first documented observation of a bonobo (Pan paniscus) birth event in the wild, at the Luikotale Bonobo Project field site, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The nulliparous mother's behaviour before, during and after parturition is described, along with reactions of other community members to the birth and the neonate. Data were collected through focal-animal observations, and the events postpartum were photo-documented. The behaviour and spatial distribution of party members were recorded using scan samples. Parturition occurred during the late morning in a social context, with parous females in close proximity to the parturient mother. Placentophagia occurred immediately after delivery, and the parturient shared the placenta with two of the attending females. I compare this observation with reports of parturition in captive bonobos, and highlight the observed female sociality and social support during the birth event. Plausible adaptive advantages of parturition occurring in a social context are discussed, and accrued observations of birth events in wild and free-ranging primates suggest that females may give birth within proximity of others more frequently than previously thought. This account contributes rare empirical data for examining the interface between female sociality and parturition, and the evolution of parturitional behaviours in primates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center