Bonobo Conservation

Lody the bonobo paints in a holding area at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Original Bonobo Paintings for Sale
The Zoological Society of Milwaukee is proud to share with you paintings by the bonobos (great apes) at the Milwaukee County Zoo. These one-of-a kind paintings are now available for purchase. By purchasing one of these pieces, you not only will be receiving a genuine piece of artwork created by an endangered ape, but you also will be supporting bonobo conservation efforts in the field. The bonobos' keeper, Barbara Bell, says that having apes paint pictures enriches their daily lives and is one of the many ways to ensure that bonobos stay happy and healthy.

Select a link below to learn more about this special offer.
Meet the artists
Painting prices
Where do the proceeds go?
For more information

See samples & Order
Framed Samples

Meet the Artists

Bila-Isia was born in 2001 and is the son of Makanza. He was named after a former Zoological Society staff member at the Society's Kinshasa office in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bila-Isia currently lives at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
See sample paintings

Brian was born in 1989 and came to the Milwaukee County Zoo from Yerkes in 1997. Brian was abused by his father and has several developmental problems. He was "adopted" by Kitty, a blind bonobo who is the oldest in the Zoo's bonobo group and one of the two oldest bonobos in the world. Lody the bonobo also has become a father figure to Brian, giving him a lot of love and role modeling. A psychiatric advisor provided help for Brian early on, suggesting that he get more one-on-one contact with other bonobos rather than try to integrate with the whole group. That strategy has worked, and Brian can relate with several bonobos at a time.
See sample paintings

Kosana arrived in Milwaukee in 2001, on loan from the Antwerp Zoo as part of a cooperative effort between the European Endangered Species Program (EEP) and the North American Bonobo SSP. On March 4, 2003, Kosana gave birth to a baby girl, who was named Deidre. Deidre's birth is Kosana's second successful birth and her first time "mother-rearing". In the past Kosana has had difficulty with her pregnancies. So the staff and Kosana are very pleased to have Deidre with us. Kosana was born in 1982 and sadly passed away in 2007.
See sample paintings

Laura was born in 1967 and has lived with her mother in both San Diego and Atlanta before coming to live at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 1993. Laura has five offspring currently living in both North America and Europe. At the Milwaukee County Zoo, Laura is perhaps the best mom in the bonobo group. She is mom to Murph, Makanza (whom she adopted), Zanga Mokila, and Claudine. Sometimes she is a caretaker for Zuri. "The more offspring you have, the more respect you get in the group," says bonobo keeper Barbara Bell.

Makanza is a captive-born bonobo who transferred to the Milwaukee County Zoo from Yerkes in 1995. He was born in 1994 and has one offspring, Bila-Isia, who lives at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
See sample paintings

Murph was born at Yerkes in 1990 and transferred to the Milwaukee County Zoo in 1993 with his mother, Laura. He does not have any offspring.

Zomi II
Zomi was born in 1999 and is the daughter of Lody. Zomi is the Lingala (a Congolese language) word for 10. Lingala is a trade language in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the only place where bonobos are found in the wild.
See sample paintings

Zuri was born in 1998 and was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2000, at the age of 2. Zuri was being hand-raised because he had some respiratory problems. So, when he came to our Zoo, he had to learn bonobo culture and etiquette. The hope was that one of the females would adopt him. A bonobo named Linda, age 45 at the time, took on this role and became a surrogate mother. She was dedicated to him and very protective.
See sample paintings

Painting Prices
We currently have finger paintings in a variety of colors and sizes. All of the pieces come matted, framed and with a small gold-tone plate that includes the name and age of the bonobo artist, our organization name, and the year the painting was produced. Prices vary according to the size of the print.

Print Size Donation Price Tax-Deductible Portion *Taxable Portion
5" x 7" $200.00 $130.00 $70.00
9 1/2" x 8" $300.00 $225.00 $75.00
9" x 11" $400.00 $320.00 $80.00

Please note: The framed product is larger than the print size. *The taxable portion is the associated costs for
framing and shipping; this includes 5.6% WI sale tax and is not tax-deductible."

Where do the Proceeds go?
All proceeds go directly to the Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative (BCBI). This program, created by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee in 1995, focuses on ensuring the survival of the bonobo populations in the Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo the only federally protected area for bonobos. Click here to learn more about BCBI.

For More Information
If you have questions or are interested in donating to the BCBI and receiving one of these unique pieces of art, please contact the Zoological Society of Milwaukee's Conservation Department at 414-276-0339, or e-mail us at Thank you for your interest and support of our bonobo conservation efforts. To learn more about bonobos, click here.