Inspired by an Earth Day project at school, All Hallows Academy fourth grader and La Jolla resident Alex Goldman raised more than $1,000 to help four orphaned bonobo apes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The focus of the project had to be on an environmental issue or an endangered animal. With an estimated 20,000-50,000 left on the planet, Alex decided to focus on the endangered, and often hunted, bonobo.
“I wanted to teach my classmates about bonobo apes because my mom’s friends (La Jolla residents) Marjaneh Miller and Ashley Stone traveled to the Congo to help take care of orphaned baby bonobos. They told me a lot about them, and I was really interested,” he said.
“There is a lot we can learn from bonobos, because they are non-violent,” he said. “There is a lot of (violent) stuff going on today, the bonobos are super peaceful and they solve problems with hugs and (physical) contact.” Bonobos are known for being social creatures, often cohabitating comfortably with humans.
He said because adult bonobos are hunted for their meat, the babies are often orphaned. Alex set up a GoFundMe account so people could donate to their care, with all funds going to Lola Ya Bonobo, an organization that rescues, rehabilitates and releases orphaned bonobos into the wild. Alex said it costs $240 to “adopt” an orphaned bonobo and pay for its care and protection from hunters for one year. With the $1,015 raised through the GoFundMe page, he said four orphaned bonobos have been adopted. Alex also has worked with the Bonobo
Project, which emphasizes public outreach and education about bonobos.
“I feel like I’m making a difference,” he said of his project. “I’m just one person, but my friends and cousins donated, so now they know about it. My friends in my class know about it now too, so they are spreading the world to their friends.”
Although the Earth Day project is complete, Alex still wants to raise money for the apes he has come to appreciate so much by keeping the GoFundMe account open. He has also considered hosting a lemonade stand to collect donations.