The Bonobo Conundrum

Katherine Phelps

The Bonobo chimpanzee of Zaire is one of the few animals outside of humanity who have sex face to face. They have also separated sex from making babies and will copulate upon any occasion.

The missionary was scandalised. He set his newspaper down and exclaimed, "This won't do. This won't do at all." He shook his head. He tapped the paper authoritatively with a crunch, crunch in disgust. "These creatures are providing a bad example for the youth of today and must be stopped." The missionary knew all too well how easily youngsters stray from the rightful opinions of their elders. Why some young thing might get it into his or her head that you could have sex just for the fun of it given such an example. The missionary indignantly harumphed. A gentleman in the room with him raised an eyebrow his direction. The missionary took it as a challenge. "You may think I am idly outraged. But I am a man of conviction. If a wrong need be righted I am amongst the first to go forth and teach others the error of their ways. Yes, these Bonobos must be stopped and I am the man to stop them." The missionary then clapped his rumpled white hat onto his white-haired head and stormed off to buy himself an airline ticket to Zaire.

When the missionary found his way to a little tribe of Bonobos, he had never met with a more dissolute group of creatures in his entire life. And worst of all, they seemed to be immensely happy about it. "I have my work cut out for me," thought the missionary.

First of all they wore no clothes. With their genitalia continuously exposed for all to see, it was no wonder they couldn't restrain themselves. The missionary himself felt a slight twinge of his well disciplined passions, but brought the feeling quickly under control. This would be his first great act as the civiliser of this species. He would shower them with clothes and teach them the value of hiding their nakedness. He looked forward to their gratitude. He looked forward to being remembered as the father of a new age for the Bonobos. Without delay he satellite modemed a request for all manner of clothing to be sent to his mission post haste.

Only a day or two later the missionary was pleased to receive a big wooden box filled with accoutrements. For the males he had boxer shorts, t-shirts, socks, boots, polyester slacks, cotton shirts, long black ties, knitted vests and blazers. For the females he had bras, underwear, slips, cotton stockings, saddle oxfords, high necked blouses, long skirts and cardigans. A more uncomfortable and civilising collection of clothing would be hard to find.

The shoes were a loss from the start. They simply didn't fit. Though the missionary managed to convince the Bonobos to give all of the clothes a try, before long the males threw their pants into the river, put the boxers on their heads and used the ties as sling shots to knock fruit out of the trees. He fared no better with the females. In moments they chewed holes in the crotch of their stockings and through their undies, then decorated their nests with the blouses and bras. The skirts, however, were a big hit. The Bonobos were delighted to discover a game of peek-a-boo, using the skirts to hide and then reveal their interesting bits, tantalising one another into a frenzy of orgiastic fun-making. The males raided the wooden box to get their own skirts adding new dimensions to the game.

The missionary was exasperated. The clothes were meant to reduce the Bonobos' promiscuity not increase it. To his added horror, since he could better distinguish between the sexes, he noticed that the Bonobos were copulating with whomever was handiest. Not only were the females enjoying the males, they were also enjoying one another. And the same was true of males, enjoying both other males and females. Oh, the depth of these creatures' depravity. The missionary chose to get beyond his disgust and see it as innocent ignorance. He would just have to educate them on the necessity of restricting their sexual activities, and get back to the clothing lesson on another day.

Bright and early the next morning the missionary gathered all the Bonobos together in order to lecture them on the virtues of limiting one's passions to the opposite sex. Ever accommodating the Bonobos agreed to give it a try, in the belief that it must be another game like the skirt one. To their credit they managed this restriction for several hours. The females would look longingly at one another, but only stroke each other's shoulders now and again. The males too merely clapped one another on the back. Nevertheless, you could see the strain on their faces. The amount of heterosexual sex increased dramatically, but somehow it didn't seem enough.

Eventually, Ooky Ooky had a fight with her best friend Hooga and Hr Hrung had a fight with his friend Ahuhuk. Since the Bonobos make up after fights by making love with one another, they had no way of assuaging the bad feelings between them. Ahuhuk was in tears, Ooky Ooky wouldn't eat and both Hooga and Hr Hrung wandered off by themselves. An elderly Bonobo decided that the time had come for the game to end. So she went out to each of them in turn, made faces until they laughed, then gave them a good bonking. Once they felt a bit better, she brought them back to the tribe and had everyone copulate with everyone as before. Their relief was tangible.

As a last ditch effort the missionary decided to teach them about monogamy. He mostly received blank stares. Why would they want to have sex with only one other Bonobo when they loved all of the Bonobos? For some reason a particular young Bonobo actually found the whole concept not only ridiculous, but downright funny. He had just learned how to count to three and he liked the thought of simply having to count to one while romping with his friends. "One, one, one!" he would cry out as he gaily bounced on the others, one at a time. This seemed like a good game to the other Bonobos and it confirmed their lifestyle of feeling at one as a tribe through their pleasures. So the missionary spent a miserable night trying to sleep through the noises of the Bonobos crying out "One, one, one!"

The following day the missionary stared at the Bonobos and pouted. He had seemed so happy when he was trying to civilise them that the Bonobos felt a little worried about him. Each Bonobo in turn offered themselves to the missionary in order to cheer him up, but to no avail. After a while they left him alone. He stared at them as they all had sex to calm themselves down before peacefully and equitably sharing the fruit of some tree. He stared at them as they all had sex with a new member of the tribe, so as to make her feel welcome and to give her a chance to bond with everyone. He watched as they made comforting and heartfelt love with one another when a tribe member died. For a whole week he watched. For a whole week he pondered. Most of the time he scowled. No one knew how long his despondency would last.

Then one day an amazing thing happened. The missionary smirked.

And then he giggled.

And then he let out a hearty guffaw.

The missionary tore off his shirt. He tore off his pants. He tore off his underwear, his shoes and his stockings too. Last of all he tossed away his rumpled white hat. Emitting gales of merry laughter, he ran to the middle of the Bonobo tribe and offered himself for his and their general enjoyment. The Bonobos were surprised by this turn of events, but weren't arguing, for any excuse to make friends and make love was a good one. Thus the missionary surrendered to a lifestyle of uninhibited pleasure.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Author's Note:
The Bonobo Chimpanzees, also known as the Pygmy Chimp, are in fact real animals and do use sex in many of the ways described above. Their numbers are small and if you believe that they are in fact a good example to the youth of today, you may wish to donate money to groups such as the World Wide Fund for Nature to help ensure their continued existence.