Lomela’s Success Story
When Lomela arrived at Lola, her chances did not look good. She was rescued from Lodja, a city almost in the center of Congo where bonobos are illegally hunted for bushmeat. There were two other orphans rescued with Lomela, but only Lomela made it to Lola.
It is a testament to Lomela’s extraordinary spirit that she survived. When Lomela first arrived, she looked three years old, but a year later, it was clear she was at least six. A long, terrible captivity after her mother was killed had shrunken her to half her normal size.
As soon as Lomela arrived at the sanctuary, like all new orphans, she was given to a human Mama, Mama Henriette, and the other bonobos soon made her feel welcome. Mwanda, a three year old female, seemed to know that Lomela needed a friend, and would sit with Lomela for hours while she ate, or just hug her gently. Despite being malnourished to the point of starvation, nurtured by Mama Henriette and her new family at Lola, Lomela made a miraculous recovery. Soon, when another orphan called Kata arrived, Lomela was able to take care of her, just as Mwanda had taken care of Lomela.
Because of her strong sense of survival, resourcefulness, and sweet disposition, Lomela was chosen to be part of the world’s first release of bonobos back into the wild. She has thrived at the release site, and has been instrumental to its success. Two years after her release, Lomela had a baby of her own. Born in the wild, Lomela’s baby is the sum of all our hopes for orphans who arrive on our doorstep. It is one small triumph for us, but a huge one for Lomela and her baby, who are finally safe and free.