Observing seven bonobos and making notes of their behaviour each second. For two winters, biology student Manon Römkens did this every Saturday and Sunday. She learned how difficult it can be to remain objective.
Römkens did a volunteering internship at the Apenheul specialised zoo in Apeldoorn. She observed a colony of bonobos: do they show stereotypical behaviour, and if so, for how long? Manon took us to the place where she sat on a chair for days on end. ‘That’s Jill, so that will be her daughter Monyami. And those are Makasi and Ayebi playing over there.’
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Manon has a passion for endangered apes. ‘They keep surprising you with their behaviour.’ That made it difficult to stay objective at times. ‘You get a tendency to link their behaviour to emotions, but that is something you really have to avoid. You simply don’t know. I now realise how difficult it is to draw hard conclusions on animal welfare.’