British Chimpanzee Bullied In German Zoo Has Finally Made Some Friends
WARNING: Distressing Content
Bili's plight brought the world to tears when footage started doing the rounds showing him set upon by other chimps at the Wuppertal Zoo.
It was so heartbreaking, more than 370,000 people signed a petition demanding the bullied British ape be allowed to return to the UK after repeated violent attacks by his new German bonobo ape family.
But new photos have now been released showing that the lonely Bili has got mates. YAY!
Wuppertal monkey curator Dr Severun Dressen, 31, said: "We are really pleased to see how Bili is developing. He is becoming much more confident."
To help Bili integrate, a new group structure was introduced at the zoo, splitting the animals into two groups. It's said the main problem was a female bonobo called Eja, 29, who didn't like him.
Dressen added: "We now have two separate groups and can now focus more individually on Bili's needs.
"In the bonobos world, women are the bosses. Eja has two sons Azibo and Ayubu, eight, and they together with their mother's support made Bili's life hell from the start.
"Bonobo mothers protect their sons even as adults and Bili has no mother, that makes it very difficult for him. In Frankfurt he was brought up by hand."
But according to the zoo's specialists, another reason why Bili's been smiling like a Cheshire cat of late is because of a budding romance with two female chimps, Muhdeblu, 18, and Kichele, 30.
Dressen said: "Bili mates with both of them. Sex seems to be really important to Bili. They seem to get on well and Bili is accepted."
He also has a platonic relationship with Mahdeblu's five-year-old daughter Akeena, who he was pictured hugging tightly.
And he's also made friends with a male called Mato, 55, who has reportedly been seen playing with him in the bonobo enclosure.
Speaking about Bili's change of fortune, a spokesperson for the zoo said: "Bili looks much more relaxed overall. We could no longer observe any aggression against him lately."
This is a complete change for everyone involved with the zoo. Just a few months ago, zookeepers were receiving death threats after refusing to move Bili.
Wuppertal Zoo director Dr Arne Lawrenz said that people have a romanticised idea of nature, which makes them react angrily when confronted with violent episodes.
Dr Lawrenz said: "This is why there must be zoos, where we can show what nature really looks like.
"That is our mission and that's why we, as zoos, might be at a crossroads here. For example, in the US there is a tendency to not exhibit bonobos because they are politically incorrect in terms of their sexual behaviour and aggression.
"I believe that zoos need to show people that nature is not all about peace, love and harmony, and that it's also about rivalry and that the animals are subject to different laws to humans."
Bili's difficult life began when his mother Maringa did not really care for him after he was born in October 2008 in Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. As a result of her not protecting him when he was growing up, he was flown to Frankfurt in January 2009.
Bili was adopted by loving female chimps in Frankfurt who have experience dealing with unwanted youngsters.
However, despite being happy and well integrated he was sent to Wuppertal Zoo on the recommendation of the Specialist Group of the European Zoological Community and the European Conservation Breeding Programme.
Featured Image Credit: CEN