Monday, March 31, 2014

TABASCO® by McIlhenny Company — Founded in 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana

The first-family of hot sauce is fiercely protective of its brand. Tony Simmons, CEO of the McIlhenny Company and great-great grandson of the founder, explains that the Tabasco name is one of its biggest assets.

Tony Simmons, McIlhenny Company CEO, tells Sanjay Gupta how a talented food scientist named Charlie Chang creates new flavors of Tabasco, one of the most iconic brands in the world.

McIlhenny Company CEO Tony Simmons displays one of the earliest bottles of Tabasco, which he estimates was probably made in the early 1870s. It is only slightly different from the bottles the company uses today.

Top 10 NBA Plays of the Night: March 29th, 2014

Check out the Top 10 from March 29th, highlighted by a play that Chris Paul leaves it all out on the court.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Coney Island Set To Launch First New Roller Coaster In Decades — Thunderbolt

ThunderboltNYC 3D

Here you go with an updated 3D rendering of the Thunderbolt! A 92-degree drop, fantastic track inversions designed by the Zamperla's team, the fastest roller coaster in the history of Coney Island, and... work still in progress... further improvements to come! Who wants to be the first Thunderbolt rider?!

•   •   •

Coney Island Set To Launch First New Roller Coaster In Decades — Thunderbolt

New for 2014 at Coney Island Luna Park. Report by News 12 Brooklyn.

Tabasco: Fighting Bland Food Since 1868 — 60 Minutes

Tabasco: Fighting bland food since 1868

The hot sauce industry is on fire with revenue of more than a billion dollars, but it all began with just one name: Tabasco

Tabasco is more than a mere condiment -- it's an American artifact. The sauce was first made in 1868 and within a few years, it was being served in the White House. Since then, it's made its way to nearly every country in the world. It is one of America's most prolific exports.
Which is why we decided to take a closer look and what we discovered is that every bottle of Tabasco has been made by the same family, a very private family, producing their famous sauce, known locally as Cajun ketchup, on their very own private island in the middle of Cajun country for five generations.
The McIlhenny clan has done it by adhering to 150 years of tradition in how they make their sauce and also what they say about it publicly - which is typically very little. Letting 60 Minutes come in with our cameras and our questions was a break from tradition.
Avery Island is located in the bayous of Louisiana, west of New Orleans. Only two miles wide, the island has been owned by the McIlhenny's and their family for almost 200 years.
It's 9 a.m. That means Tony Simmons, the fifth generation CEO, is heading to the warehouse for his daily taste test.
Farmers all over the world grow the peppers, mash them and ship it all back to Avery Island.
Sanjay Gupta: You do this every morning that you're here?
Tony Simmons: Every morning I'm here I check these barrels if they're making mash. Where's this from?
Man: Colombia.
That means every bottle of Tabasco in the world has his personal seal of approval.
Tony Simmons: So I'm looking at the color and that's why I've got an incandescent light. I want to look at the color, I want to look at the seed. And when I taste the mash, usually what I'm looking for is I get some salt out on the edges of my tongue and then about the time you think, "Well, this isn't that much of a big deal," the heat comes late. You want to try?
Sanjay Gupta: Sure. I'm watching you first, though. How was it--
Tony Simmons: I do this every morning. It's not so bad for me.
Sanjay Gupta: Is that a good chunk?
Tony Simmons: Yeah that's good. You just put it on the front of your tongue and then just let it sit there for a minute
If you think Tabasco is hot, the raw ingredients are 10 times hotter.
Tony Simmons: And then the heat-- the heat kicks in.
Sanjay Gupta: Yeah, it does.
Tony Simmons: So.
Sanjay Gupta: Wow, Tony. I have newfound--
Man: Peru.
Sanjay Gupta: --respect.
Man: Peru.
Tony Simmons: Tastes like candy.
Sanjay Gupta: Tastes like candy?
Tony Simmons: Smells like money.
Man: Honduras.
Sanjay Gupta: Are there secrets in here though that you don't want the rest of that world to know?
Tony Simmons: Our formula is only red Tabasco mash, vinegar, and a little bit of salt. So I don't know how many secrets we could really have with a process that simple.
It was Simmons' great-great grandfather, Edmund McIlhenny, who created the sauce shortly after the Civil War. He began selling his concoction in old cologne bottles in New Orleans - calling it: Tabasco.
Tony Simmons: There was no commercially-sold hot sauce before Tabasco. Edmund invented the category.
Sanjay Gupta: He is sort of the father of hot sauce?
Tony Simmons: He's the father of hot sauce.
Sanjay Gupta: That would make this the first family of hot sauce.
Tony Simmons: That sounds real good.
The first family of hot sauce turned Tabasco into one of the oldest and largest family owned-and-operated businesses in the country.
Sanjay Gupta: You're the fifth generation family member to run this business?
Tony Simmons: Uh-huh.
Sanjay Gupta: How unlikely a story is this?
Tony Simmons: Only 30 percent of companies outlive the founder or move to a second generation. And only 12 percent of companies actually make it to the third generation. So for us to be the fifth generation and still be doing this is a much smaller subset, I'm sure.
From the beginning, the company has always been run by, and for, family members. The top management, board and 130 stockholders are all McIlhenny descendants.
Sanjay Gupta: Estimates are that sales are close to $200 million a year. Am I in the right ballpark?
Tony Simmons: You're probably in the right town.
Sanjay Gupta: Could you put me in a better ballpark?
Tony Simmons: No, like I said, we just don't give out financial information.
Sanjay Gupta: What about margins, profit margins? Can you talk about that?
Tony Simmons: Nope.
Sanjay Gupta: None of it?
Tony Simmons: None of it. It's a private, family-held business.
Sanjay Gupta: Is there any advantage to not sharing this information?
Tony Simmons: We're not sure. But we're probably not gonna find out either.
Harold "Took" Osborn - another of Edmund's great-great-grandsons and Tony Simmons' younger cousin - is next in line to run the company.
Sanjay Gupta: Everyone calls you Took. I mean, you're one of the senior guys in the company, the No. 2. What does that say about this culture here?
Harold Osborn: When I came here I-- I put my name in the company directory as Harold. I didn't get any calls for the first six months 'cause no one knew who Harold Osborn was. They all knew me as Took.
Sanjay Gupta: A decade from now, will one of the best known companies in the world be run by a guy named Took?
Harold Osborn: Well, we might-- we might change that a little bit.
Tony Simmons: They gonna call you Mr. Took?
Harold Osborn: Mr. Took. That's right. Mr. Took.
Even though he's the heir to the Tabasco crown, Osborn inspects the pepper bushes himself...much as his ancestors did, as this company film shows.
Harold Osborn: You have to walk through the field. And we take rope. And we say, this plant, that plant. You can almost see the personality of the plants. And then we tie a string around 'em and come back and pick, just those plants for next year's season.
The company grows peppers on 20 acres of Avery Island - not to produce sauce, but to produce seeds, which are sent to farmers abroad.
Harold Osborn: It's essentially an heirloom plant. It's essentially the original stock.
Sanjay Gupta: So you're saying these peppers are-- are genetically the same as the ones that--
Harold Osborn: As--
Sanjay Gupta: --the original peppers?
Harold Osborn: As far as we know, yes. We've never modified them.
Sanjay Gupta: These peppers are hand-picked. Why not use a machine or some sort of automation to make that easier?
Harold Osborn: We don't want to change the plant. That's the way most-- like, in the cucumber world, or potatoes or anything else you modify the plant to work for a harvester. Every time you breed something you give away something and taste is always the first thing that gets cast away.
Key to the taste of the sauce are the seeds - and they're irreplaceable.
Harold Osborn: We have a vault in our office.
Sanjay Gupta: A vault?
Harold Osborn: --a vault. We keep them--
Sanjay Gupta: You keep seeds in the vault?
Harold Osborn: Keep seeds in the vault.
Farmers in Latin America and Africa use those seeds to grow 10 million pounds of peppers. They mix them with salt, grind them and ship the mash back to Avery Island, where it's aged in oak barrels that were once used by the finest whiskey makers in the country.
The barrels do have to be modified, though. In particular: the metal hoops.
Coy Boutte: We'll have to put stainless steel on 'em.
Sanjay Gupta: Why?
Coy Boutte: The acidity of the peppers.
Sanjay Gupta: The peppers could eat through the steel that's down there in the first place?
Coy Boutte: Correct.
Coy Boutte is in charge of the warehouse. He's also a fourth generation
Tabasco employee, something that's pretty common around here.
Coy Boutte: My grandfather, he ran our processing department. My mom works in our HR Department. And my dad runs our maintenance shop.
Sanjay Gupta: How big a part of your life would you say Tabasco is?
Coy Boutte: It's my whole life. I was born and raised here.
Sanjay Gupta: Do you eat Tabasco every day?
Coy Boutte: I eat Tabasco every day - morning, lunch and supper.
As the mash slumbers for three years, spider webs grow on the 60,000 barrel inventory.
Sanjay Gupta: The last time I saw this many barrels is usually a place like a winery.
Tony Simmons: We think about our process similar to the way, I think, a winemaker would think about his process.
Once Simmons approves the mash, it moves on, to the next pungent stage.
Tony Simmons: We add vinegar to fill the tank and then we mix it and stir it for up to about 28 days.
Sanjay Gupta: Takes your breath away--
Sanjay Gupta: Do you ever-- do you ever get used to it?
Tony Simmons: I don't know if you can get used to it but it doesn't affect ya quite as much if you--
Sanjay Gupta: After awhile?
Tony Simmons: After awhile.
The sauce is then strained and bottled. The company's 200-person workforce can produce more than 700,000 bottles a day.
Sanjay Gupta: This is a big product around the world. I mean, how big are we talking about?
Tony Simmons: We are currently shipping to 166 countries.
Sanjay Gupta: Do you want to be in every country in the world?
Tony Simmons: Well, yes, we do.
Meanwhile the hot sauce industry in the U.S. is on fire with revenue of more than a billion dollars. Eating spicy food has risen in popularity. It's even become a competitive sport.
[Chili Head Festival: You got hotter? This'll be a 20 minute burn.]
As can be seen at this chili festival near Dallas...
[Chili Head Festival: That's hot.]
Lately, Tabasco, the grandfather of condiments, is trying to keep pace with these brash, new rivals.
Tony Simmons: The market itself has been growing. And the more people that come into this category, we think the better it is. Because if you begin to use hot sauce, we think sooner or later, you're gonna find Tabasco. And when you do, we're gonna get you.
Sanjay Gupta: You're gonna hook 'em.
Tony Simmons: We're gonna hook 'em.
Avery Island is located in hurricane country -- making Tabasco very vulnerable. In 2005, Hurricane Rita caused massive flooding.
Sanjay Gupta: How at risk was Tabasco?
Tony Simmons: We had four inches before water would've come into a food plant. And you can imagine, we would've been shut down for months and months.
Sanjay Gupta: That's very close to being on the edge.
Tony Simmons: It's the only place in the world we make Tabasco.
In order for the family to protect Tabasco, they must first protect Avery Island. Fighting the erosion of Louisiana's picturesque bayous is a constant challenge for Took Osborn.
Harold Osborn: Some of the problems that we have are saltwater intrusion. If you bring direct sea salt in it'll kill all this grass.
Without the grass, the area's biodiversity will also disappear. So the company has a program to replant new grass.
Harold Osborn: It's an indigenous grass. It's very inexpensive to do. It's very effective. It grows fast. What you see here, this grass will start spreading out by the roots. And it stops the sediment that's floating by. And the sediment drops out, and builds marsh.
In just a few years, this will turn into this...
As much as they like to talk about their conservation efforts, the family also leases their land for oil and gas drilling, as well as, salt mining.
Sanjay Gupta: Those two things seem at odds with one another.
Harold Osborn: No, 'cause we use those resources, to actually help the parts of the land where the oil isn't.
Sanjay Gupta: How does that benefit Avery Island and Tabasco?
Harold Osborn: All this land protects the island, protects it from storms-- protects it from erosion. And it's part of our heritage.
That heritage includes unique Cajun musical and culinary traditions that the McIlhenny family cherishes.
[Tony Simmons: If you work on the leg to get some of that nice crab meat...yeah.]
And at the heart of Cajun cuisine is Cajun ketchup.
Sanjay Gupta: Could you do what you've done here with Tabasco someplace other than Avery Island?
Tony Simmons: I think we could make Tabasco but I'm not sure that the joy would be anywhere near as great if it wasn't being done where it is.
They are fiercely protective of their island, their business and their sauce, which has been trademarked since 1906.
Sanjay Gupta: Now that I've been here for a couple of days, I sort of feel like I got the formula for this Tabasco down. And if I wanted to go out and create Sanjay's Tabasco Sauce, what would happen to me?
Tony Simmons: If you called it Sanjay's Tabasco Sauce, you'd get a cease and desist letter from us pretty quickly saying that you can't use the word "Tabasco" in that context. You could call it Sanjay's Hot Sauce made with tabasco peppers. But you couldn't call it Sanjay's Tabasco Sauce.
Sanjay Gupta: How far would you guys go to enforce that?
Tony Simmons: We'll go to court with you. Absolutely.
Sanjay Gupta: There will be no other Tabasco sauces out there?
Tony Simmons: No.
Sanjay Gupta: There have been rumors that there have been offers for purchase of Tabasco. People that offer a billion dollars, maybe even more. Is there any amount of money that would make this company for sale?
Tony Simmons: The shareholders of the company would have to decide what they want to do.
Sanjay Gupta: And they say, "Mr. CEO, what's your recommendation?"
Tony Simmons: You know, I like owning a family business.
  • Sanjay Gupta

Friday, March 28, 2014

"In Vein" by Rick Ross feat. The Weeknd | Produced by The Weeknd & Da Heala

"In Vein" by Rick Ross feat. The Weeknd | Produced by The Weeknd & Da Heala

[Intro: The Weeknd]

I don't got a single sober vein in my body
I don't got a single sober vein in my body

[Verse 1: The Weeknd]

Don't apologize, I quite enjoy messy
I see that bottle after bottle got you goin' crazy
And doin' shows after shows got me so lazy
So ride it out for me, and take it off for me
It's a good vibe, good vibe, good vibe
Don't you ever threaten niggas with a good time
She wanna buy a dream, I said I don't sell it
But she can rent it for a night, I don't mind, open wide
Cause all this fame, I earned it, I might as well use it
Private elevator goin' straight to my unit
All my niggas 'round me, gettin' kickback pussy
All my killas 'round me, all be hiding in Stussy
Can't nobody stop me, used to be homeless
Now that penthouse at the Ritz where my home is
Tour bus like a National Geographic
Bitches runnin' wild gettin' faded in the bathroom

                                                                  "In Vein" by Rick Ross feat. The Weeknd via MySpace

[Hook: The Weeknd]

It makes me smile, it makes me smile
Cause I got it
It makes me smile, it makes me smile
Cause I got it
All the pain, sweat and tears, just to get a piece
But now we got it
Man look at the kid now, can't nobody stop me
I don't got a single sober vein in my body

[Verse 2: Rick Ross]

Fuck her like a thug nigga, young nigga, new Ferrari
Old money, I just 'fraid the lord with us
Condo blow money, like it's all dope money
Come short wet niggas, like a speed boat coming, oh Lord
Mo money, mo money, these rich young niggas ain't ever know money
Bel-Air running down the Rollie on her arm
Pinky ring six-hundred, what you know about it
I'm the champ, baby, Real Deal Holyfield
Got the bitches, want it dirty, went and bought the crib
25 mil, I'm doing 25-to-life
100 acres, keep my shooters all through the night
Every chandelier rented, nigga, one-mil
20 chandeliers motherfucker who real
I just wanna show her what I live like
Wearing a white birkin on a winter night
Fuck a Berkin, now she in the Bentley
That's when she went and tatted double M G
Now I ballin' deep, deeper than the rap
She give me brain she a mastermind to be exact
She a mastermind to be exact
I give her game and she give it back
Sip syrup so I fuck slow, sip more I wanna fuck more
Gotta grind 'till your eyes close, stay strapped till the trap close
They scream Maybach on the cell blocks
All my dawgs who used to sell Glocks
They say the niggas in the jail talk
How your homies commissary fell off
What make it worse he get an elbows
25-to-life dead wrong on the cell phone



"In Vein" – Rick Ross feat. The Weeknd & Da Heala

Popular & successful "underground" R&B artist — The Weeknd created & released three "critically-acclaimed" mixtape albums has evidently become the "Guest  Appearance" whom everyone seems to want on their albums.

Whether it be Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, French Montana or European Electro artists, The Weeknd is "in-demand" — on top of the list.

The latest to make music industry's highly "sought-after" hired assassin is none other than — Rick Ross, recruiting the slick R n' B crooner for a melodramatic cut entitled, “In Vein” from his latest album release: Mastermind (2014).
"...One of the Sickest Collabos of the Year in 2014...Ross surprisingly raps fast & it's of no surprise that The Weeknd co-produced this gem...seems as if the XO/Stripper King has perfectedthe art of a silky n' smooth/sexy n' sultry track — his signature production choice..."  KONGFUSION©

NCAA College Basketball Brawl Breaks-Out After Utah Valley Defeats New Mexico State

A wild brawl involving players and fans broke out when New Mexico State guard K.C. Ross-Miller hurled the ball at Utah Valley's Holton Hunsaker seconds after Utah Valley defeated New Mexico State, 66-61 in overtime.

Don't expect storming the court to go away, despite latest incident

Storming the court is good television, both in itself and as a backdrop for a postgame interview. It sells prospective students on the idea that a school has great spirit. And students are having a great time getting on TV and snapping photos on their cellphones while doing it.

"Wolfpack" by Taped

"Wolfpack" by Taped

This is who we are
This what we stand for
Don’t give a fuck about the past
We are friends after all

We have come this far
This is who we are

The last few years have been hell of a ride
we could never have done this without friends by our side
the struggle the pain, the hard work, the strain
you can try to change us, but we’ll stay the same

Ref.: 2x
This is the Wolfpack
Brothers from the start
Nothing and no one can tear this apart
We are the wolf pack
This is we belong
Where nobody can judge you, no right and no wrong

You are never alone
Wolves hunt together
And not on their own

We’re taking over this town
We’re not leaving here
Until we capture the crown

Ref.: 2x
This is the Wolfpack
Brothers from the start
Nothing and no one can tear this apart
We are the wolf pack
This is we belong
Where nobody can judge you, no right and no wrong

The time is now
To stand up tall
All for one
And one for all

Ref.: 2x
This is the Wolfpack
Brothers from the start
Nothing and no one can tear this apart
We are the wolf pack
This is we belong
Where nobody can judge you, no right and no wrong

PBS | Evolution: "Why Sex?" [Chimps vs. Bonobos]

PBS | Evolution: "Why Sex?" [Chimps vs. Bonobos]

How environment affects behavior; investigating how bonobos differ from chimpanzees, and how both might provide insight on the origins of human society.

VIRTUAL — P.O.V. :: Leviathan Roller Coaster (Wonderland in Ontario, Canada)

Leviathan Roller Coaster Virtual POV CGI Animated B&M Giga Coaster Canada's Wonderland 2012

Concept art provided by Canada's Wonderland

Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

EPIC BRAWLS: New York Yankees -vs- Baltimore Orioles | Tino Martinez Drilled by Armando Benitez on 5/19/98

Tino Martinez Drilled In Back, Wild Brawl Ensues

5/19/98: Tino Martinez is hit by a pitch from Armando Benitez, leading to a protracted dispute as the Yankees' and Orioles' benches clear. Darryl Strawberry and Scott Brosius involved.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bonobo — Bio & Boiler Room "Live" DJ Set

The Ninja Tune takeover was an amazing way to start the year and it's pretty safe to say everyone excelled themselves with their sets. This guy was on top form, listen back for the proof.

Simon Green, AKA Bonobo, is an artist very much at the peak of his powers. His 2013 album ‘The North Borders’ was the high watermark of his career to date: a masterful record, marrying Green's inimitable melodic genius to cutting edge electronics, bass and drums.

An artist that constantly pushes himself outside of his musical comfort zone, Bonobo’s ranging personal tastes and regularly expanding range of synthesizers and instruments continue to take his productions to new levels. This outlook has earned him a reputation as one of the most pioneering figures in electronic music, in both his solo DJ sets and 12-piece live band shows.

All this comes as the result of over ten years hard work, and five albums that have honed Green's skills. A born musician, Green - like many artists - expresses himself most articulately via his music. The result is that his work is always keenly felt, and always feels imperative. There are no wasted moments, and myriad great ones.

DJ Bonobo
It's tempting to relate Green's yearning, emotive aesthetic to his upbringing in rural Hampshire. His move to Brighton is also an influence; his skill at drum programming perhaps harking back to his days DJing and producing in the small, musically fertile town. Under the initial guidance of Tru Thoughts' Rob Luis and at nights such as Phonic:hoop, Bonobo found an early education in music.

His first album - 2000's 'Animal Magic' - was released via Tru Thoughts before being picked up by Ninja Tune. It announced him as a serious talent; able to bring a true musician's edge to electronic music, with all the freedom that skill allowed. His subsequent albums for Ninja, Dial M for Monkey and Days to Come, developed his sensibility, won him fans across the globe, and saw him develop his live show into a mesmeric re-working of his records.

He also worked hard as a DJ, a part of Green's arsenal that perhaps truly came into its own at the same time as 2010’s Black Sands. 2012 saw him take the uptempo, club re-edits of Black Sands from a seminal Boiler Room performance in London to dance floors across the world, and unveil a new light show that further enhanced the impact of these stunning songs. A remix album was released featuring reworkings by fans and peers such as Machinedrum, Floating Points, Mark Pitchard, Lapalux and Falty DL.

Later the same year, he finally settled down in his New York studio to write his fifth album. The North Borders was another long stride forward - both a natural evolution and a continuation of the electronic palette of Black Sands. Thematic, resonant, addictive and perfectly formed, it's a thrillingly coherent statement piece. With vocal features from no less than Erykah Badu, as well as Grey Reverend (Cinematic Orchestra) and Cornelia (Portico Quartet) it's another finely balanced body of work, leaving room for the beautiful, rich productions themselves to breathe and shine.

Bonobo has a long history of unearthing new talent (Andreya Triana, Bajka) and The North Borders saw him do so once again. The startling vocals of new collaborator Szjerdene are sprinkled across the album, and Green has yet again found the perfect voice to express where he's at.

Since the album’s release, Green has gone on to play over 140 sold out shows across four continents and 25 countries, selling over 500,000 tickets and wowing audiences with the hypnotic, extended live versions of his songs. He performed sold out shows at The Sydney Opera House and Brixton Academy, and his very own, day long festival at London’s Roundhouse. 2014 will see him and his band play both the iconic Coachella festival, and his largest UK show to date at Alexandra Palace in November…

It’s a full schedule and then some, but one that’s constantly rewarding for his fans, and perhaps proves that Bonobo is not only one of the world’s hardest working artists in electronic music, but also one of its best.

Are Bonobo Apes Our Most Common Ancestors?

Picture of a young female bonobo

The Left Bank Ape

An exclusive look at bonobos

In a remote forest sector of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along the north bank of the Luo River, 50 miles by dirt trail from the nearest grass airstrip, lies the Wamba research camp, a place that’s quietly renowned in the annals of primatology. Wamba was founded in 1974 by a Japanese primatologist named Takayoshi Kano for the study of the bonobo, Pan paniscus, a species of simian unlike any other.
The bonobo, in case you haven’t heard, carries a reputation as the “make love, not war” member of the ape lineage, far lustier and less bellicose than its close cousin, the chimpanzee. Modern studies of zoo populations by the Dutch-American biologist Frans de Waal and others have documented its easy, pervasive sexuality and its propensity for amicable bonding (especially among females), in contrast with chimpanzee dominance battles (especially among males) and intergroup warfare. But the bonobo’s behavior in the wild has been harder to know, and Takayoshi Kano, operating out of the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, was among the first scientists aspiring to study it there. Apart from several interruptions, including a hiatus during the Congo wars of 1996-2002, observations at Wamba have continued ever since.
Early one morning I followed a researcher named Tetsuya Sakamaki, also from Kyoto University, into the forest. Promptly I saw things that, according to the popular image of the species, I might not have expected. Bonobos quarreled. They hunted for meat. They went hours at a stretch without having sex. This was the animal so renowned for its lubricious, pacific social life?
As Sakamaki and I watched a party of bonobos feeding on the fruits of a boleka tree—small, grapelike morsels with papery husks—he identified the individuals by name. That female there, with the sexual swelling, we call her Nova, he said. She last gave birth in 2008; the gaudy inflation of her genital area, like a pink sofa cushion taped to her rump, advertised her readiness to breed again. This female is Nao, he said, very old, very senior. Nao has two daughters, of which the elder has so far remained in this group. And that female there, that’s Kiku, also very senior, with three sons in the group. One of those sons is Nobita—easy to identify, Sakamaki explained, by his great size and the digits missing from his right hand and both feet and by the blackness of his testes. Missing digits suggest a mishap in a snare, not unusual for bonobos facing the hazards of human proximity. Nobita seems to be the alpha male, insofar as bonobo groups recognize alpha males.
By now we had followed the bonobos into a grove of musanga trees, and they were stuffing their mouths with fruit, pulpy and green. Suddenly a screechy altercation broke out between Nobita and another male, Jiro. Kiku, Nobita’s elderly mother, charged over to support her son. Cowed by the two of them, Jiro retreated. He sulked in a nearby tree. It’s interesting, Sakamaki noted, that Nobita is the largest male in this group, and yet his mother helps him in a fight. Even a high-ranking adult male such as Nobita seems to hold his status partly on the merits of his mama.
Forty minutes later, when the screeching began again, Sakamaki drew my attention to the focus of excitement: an anomalure (a gliding rodent, like a flying squirrel), scrambling for its life on a tree trunk while several bonobos converged around it. As the bonobos came closer, the anomalure launched itself into space and glided away. Then we noticed a second one, clinging secretively to the east side of another large bole while a bonobo named Jeudi sat clueless just 15 feet to the west. This anomalure, pink eared and pale eyed, held its place on the bark more patiently, frozen, not giving itself away. Within a moment, though, other bonobos spotted it, and the group closed in, shrieking with predatory menace. One bonobo climbed upward, struggling to find grips. The anomalure skittered 20 feet higher, ascending as easily as a gecko on a wall. When it was entirely surrounded with bloodthirsty apes, the little rodent launched itself and sailed away through the limbs and undergrowth to safety. We never even saw where it hit the ground; neither did the bonobos. Wow, I thought. Nicely done.
“Hunting behavior—it’s very rare,” said Sakamaki. “So you are very lucky.”
Not yet noon on my first day at Wamba, and already my notion of bonobos had been confounded with realities, contrasts, and complications.

Bonobos are known for their creative sexual behavior that goes beyond mating purposes.
Bonobos are known for their creative sexual behavior that goes beyond mating purposes.
Bonobos have been confounding people ever since they first came to scientific attention. Back in 1927 a Belgian zoologist named Henri Schouteden examined the skull and skin of a peculiar animal, supposedly an adult female chimpanzee, from the Belgian Congo. The skull, he reported, was “curieusement petit pour une bête de semblables dimensions”—oddly small for an animal of such size. The following year a German zoologist, Ernst Schwarz, visited Schouteden’s museum and measured that skull as well as two others, concluding that they must represent a distinct form of chimp, unique to the south side—the left bank—of the Congo River. Schwarz announced his discovery in a paper titled “Le Chimpanzé de la Rive Gauche du Congo.” So from the beginning there was at least a subliminal association between the Left Bank culture at the center of the Francophone world—the bohemian artists and writers and philosophers of la rive gauche in Paris, south of the Seine—and this newly identified, unconventional Congolese ape. Soon after, the left-bank ape was recognized as a full species and took its modern name, Pan paniscus.
Another label that fell upon it was “pygmy chimpanzee,” despite the fact that it’s not much littler than the common chimpanzee, the one already widely known, Pan troglodytes. The bonobo’s head is smaller in proportion to its body than a chimp’s, its physique more slender, its legs longer. But in overall size, both male and female adult bonobos fall generally within the same weight range as female chimps. Scientists today tend to avoid the term pygmy chimpanzee; “bonobo” better suggests that this creature is not a miniaturized version of something else.
The major distinctions between bonobos and chimps are behavioral, and the most conspicuous do involve sex. Both in captivity and in the wild, bonobos practice a remarkable diversity of sexual interactions. According to de Waal: “Whereas the chimpanzee shows little variation in the sexual act, bonobos behave as if they have read the Kama Sutra, performing every position and variation one can imagine.” For instance, they mate in the missionary position, something virtually unknown among chimpanzees. But their sexiness isn’t just about mating. Most of those variations are sociosexual, meaning that they don’t entail copulation between an adult male and an adult female during her fertile period. The range of partners includes adults of the same sex, an adult with a juvenile of either sex, and two juveniles together. The range of activities includes mouth-to-mouth kissing, oral sex, genital caressing by hand, penis-fencing by two males, male-on-male mounting, and genito-genital rubbing (G-G rubbing is the shorthand term) by two estrous females, who moosh their swollen vulvas back and forth against each other in a spate of feverish sisterly cordiality. Usually there’s no orgasm culminating these activities. Their social purpose seems to be communication of various sorts: expression of goodwill, calming of excitement, greeting, tension relief, bonding, solicitation of food sharing, and reconciliation. To that list of benefits we might also add sheer pleasure and (for the juveniles) instructional play. Varied and frequent and often nonchalant, sex is a widely applied social lubricant that helps keep bonobo politics amiable. De Waal again: “The chimpanzee resolves sexual issues with power; the bonobo resolves power issues with sex.”
Sexiness isn’t the only big difference between bonobos and chimps, though it’s probably linked to other differences, either as cause or as effect. Females, not males, hold the highest social rankings, which they seem to achieve by affable social networking (such as G-G rubbing) rather than by forming temporary alliances and fighting, as male chimpanzees do. Bonobo communities don’t wage violent wars against other bonobo communities adjacent to their territory. They forage during daytime in more stable and often larger parties, with sometimes as many as 15 or 20 individuals moving together from one source of food to another, and they cluster their nests at night, presumably for mutual security. Their diet, which is similar to the usual chimpanzee diet in most respects—fruit, leaves, a bit of animal protein when they can get it—differs in one signal way: Bonobos eat a lot of the herby vegetation that is abundant in all seasons—big reedy stuff like cornstalks and starchy tubers like arrowroot—which offers nutritious shoots and young leaves and pith inside the stems, rich in protein and sugars. Bonobos, then, have an almost inexhaustible supply of reliable munchies. So they don’t experience lean times, hunger, and competition for food as acutely as chimpanzees do. That fact may have had important evolutionary implications.
Bonobos do share one distinction with chimpanzees: Together they are the two closest living relatives of Homo sapiens. Back about seven million years ago, somewhere in the forests of equatorial Africa, lived a kind of proto-ape that was both their direct ancestor and ours. Then our lineage diverged from theirs, and by about 900,000 years ago, those two apes had diverged from each other. No one knows whether their last shared ancestor resembled a chimp, in anatomy and behavior, or a bonobo—but solving that uncertainty might say something about human origins too. Do we come from a long line of peace-loving, sex-happy, and female-dominant apes, or from a natural heritage of warfare, infanticide, and male dominance?

Young bonobos are born with pink faces that darken as they mature.
Young bonobos are born with pink faces that darken as they mature.
Richard Wrangham has a hypothesis. Wrangham is a distinguished biological anthropologist and a professor in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard with more than four decades of experience studying primates in the wild. His work on chimpanzees dates back to his Ph.D. research at Tanzania’s Gombe National Park in the early 1970s and continues at Kibale National Park in Uganda. He addressed the subject of bonobo origins in a 1993 journal paper and then in a popular 1996 book, Demonic Males, co-authored with Dale Peterson. The crucial point in his hypothesis is the absence of gorillas, over the past one or two million years, from the left bank of the Congo River.
The reasons for that absence are uncertain, but the evolutionary consequences seem rather clear. On the river’s right bank, where chimps and gorillas shared the forest, the gorillas ate what gorillas still eat, mainly herby vegetation, and the chimps ate a chimp diet, mainly fruit, tree leaves, and occasionally meat. On the left bank dwelled that other chimpish animal, privileged by circumstance to be free of gorilla competition. “And that’s the formula,” Wrangham told me by phone from his office at Harvard, “that makes a bonobo.” The left-bank creatures, bolstering themselves on a rich chimpanzee diet when it was available and sustained by those staple gorilla foods when it wasn’t, lived a steadier life; they weren’t forced to break into small and unstable foraging groups, diverging, rejoining, scrambling for precious but patchily available foods, as right-bank chimps often are. And that fateful difference in food-finding strategy carried consequences for social behavior, Wrangham explained. The relative stability of foraging groups within a larger bonobo community means that vulnerable individuals usually have allies present at any given moment. This tends to dampen dominance battles and fighting. “Specifically,” he added, “females have other females as well as males available to protect them from those that might want to bully them.”
Another result of the foraging-group stability, he noted, involves the sexual rhythms of bonobo females. Unlike chimp females, they aren’t obliged by circumstance to present themselves always as extremely attractive, extremely ready for mating with all possible males during just short, periodic windows of time. “If you are a bonobo,” Wrangham said, and you live in a larger and more stable foraging group, “then you can afford to have a long period of sexual swelling.” A bonobo female doesn’t need to attract gaggles of frantically horny males on a short-term basis. She’s continually attractive, continually ready. “That greatly reduces the importance to the males of competing for dominance and bullying the females.” So the famed amity and sexiness of bonobo social life has, by Wrangham’s hypothesis, an unexpected source: the availability of gorilla foods uneaten by gorillas.
And why are gorillas absent on the left bank? Wrangham suggested a scenario, speculative, he said, but plausible. Sometime after about 2.5 million years ago, severe drying seems to have hit central Africa. In the equatorial lowlands on both sides of the Congo, herby vegetation—gorilla habitat—shriveled away. Chimps could survive by finding fruit in riverside forests, but the right-bank gorillas were forced into highland refuges, such as the Virunga volcanoes in the northeastern part of the drainage and the Crystal Mountains in the west. On the left bank, though, there were no such highland refuges. The land is flat. So if gorillas had ever lived on that side, the Pleistocene drought may have killed them off.

Bonobos share a junglesop fruit — a delectable snack for both bonobos and humans.
Bonobos share a junglesop fruit — a delectable snack for both bonobos and humans.
Bonobo behavior is exceptional among apes, and there are exceptions to the exceptions. You can’t paint their portrait with a broad brush. No researchers have been more punctilious about this than Gottfried Hohmann and Barbara Fruth, a married couple based at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, Germany, who have studied bonobos in the wild for more than two decades. Their work began in 1990 at a site called Lomako, in northern Congo, and they enjoyed uninterrupted field seasons until war started in 1998 and stopped everything for four years. Hohmann and Fruth then established a new field camp farther south, at a place known as Lui Kotale, in an excellent piece of forest just outside Salonga National Park. They arranged a compact with the local community within whose traditional territory the forest lies: In exchange for a fee, the local people agreed not to hunt or cut trees at Lui Kotale.
To get there, you land at another grass airstrip, walk an hour into a village, pay your respects to the elders, and then keep walking for five more hours. You cross the Lokoro River in a dugout canoe, wade up a black-water stream, climb a bank, and find yourself in a neat, simple camp of thatched ramadas and tents, with two solar panels to power the computers.
Hohmann arrived back at this place, on a June day last year, like a man very glad to be in the forest again after too many months deskbound in Leipzig. He’s a robust 60-year-old, blue-eyed and bony, long conditioned to the steeplechase rigors of field primatology, and if I hadn’t been pushing to stay at his heels, the six-hour hike would have taken me seven.
One morning I rose with the early crew, two lean young volunteers named Tim Lewis-Bale and Sonja Trautmann. We reached the bonobo nests at 5:20 a.m., before the drowsy animals began to stir. Their first act of the morning: a good piss. Lewis-Bale and Trautmann each stood beneath a nest tree, catching urine in a leaf. They pipetted this harvest into small vials, recorded the identity of each pisser, and then we were off on our morning chase.
That afternoon Hohmann and I sat beneath one of the thatch roofs discussing bonobo behavior. Few other researchers have seen bonobos in the act of predation, and those few reports generally involve small prey such as anomalures (only at Wamba) or baby duikers. Animal protein, insofar as bonobos get any, had seemed to come mainly from insects and millipedes. But Fruth and Hohmann reported nine cases of hunting by bonobos at Lomako, seven of which involved sizable duikers, usually grabbed by one bonobo, ripped apart at the belly while still alive, with the entrails eaten first, and the meat shared. More recently, here at Lui Kotale, they have seen another 21 successful predations, among which eight of the victims were mature duikers, one was a bush baby, and three were monkeys. Bonobos preying on other primates: “This is a regular part of the bonobo diet,” Hohmann said.
Sexiness, on the other hand, seemed to him less manifest than others, such as de Waal, had claimed. “I could show Frans some of the behaviors that he would not think are possible in bonobos,” Hohmann said. Infrequent sex, for instance. Yes, there’s a great diversity of sexual acts in the bonobo repertoire, but “a captive setting really amplifies all these behaviors. Bonobo behavior in the wild is different—must be different—because bonobos are very busy making their living, searching for food.”
Hohmann mentioned other points of conventional wisdom against which he and Fruth dissent, including the notion that bonobo society is held together as a genial sisterhood by female bonding (they consider mother-son bonding at least as important) and the notion that bonobos aren’t aggressive toward one another. Aggression may be rare and muted, he said, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. Consider how subtle human aggression can be. Consider how a single violent act, or merely a mean one, can stick in a person’s memory for years. “I think this is just what applies to bonobo behavior,” he said. Life as a bonobo may be more stressful than it appears. Evidence of hidden anxieties has begun emerging from a hormone study by one of his postdocs, Martin Surbeck.
Analyzing fecal and urine samples, such as the ones gathered that morning by Lewis-Bale and Trautmann, Surbeck has found a surprising pattern: high levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, in some bonobo males. Cortisol levels have been especially elevated among high-ranking males in the presence of estrous females. What does it imply? That a high-ranking bonobo male, walking a fine line between not enough machismo (which could cost him his status among males) and too much machismo (which could cost him his mating opportunities with imperious females), feels stressed by his complex situation. Bonobos eschew crude aggression and violence, but they’re not carefree; they use sociosexual behaviors, diverse and relatively frequent, as a means of conflict management. “This is what makes them different,” Hohmann said, “not that everything is peaceful.”

The Congo River’s channels have proved to be impassable for the local primates, keeping bonobos separated on the left bank and chimps and apes on the right bank.
The Congo River’s channels have proved to be impassable for the local primates, keeping bonobos separated on the left bank and chimps and apes on the right bank.
The bonobo is classified as endangered, and though protected by Congolese law, it continues to suffer from all-too-familiar problems, especially hunting for bush meat and habitat loss. Perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 bonobos remain in the wild, some of which are harbored within national parks and reserves, such as Salonga National Park and the Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve. These “protected” areas may or may not provide effective security for bonobos and other wildlife, depending upon realities on the ground—for instance, whether or not guards have been hired and trained, paid their salaries, and supplied with adequate weapons to face poachers. Congo suffered severely from its seven decades of Belgian colonialism, followed by three decades of Mobutu’s kleptocracy, followed by war; the context that frames all conservation efforts is institutional dysfunction. Among the hostages to this situation is the bonobo, a species native to no country in the world except Congo. If it doesn’t survive in the wild there, it will survive in the wild nowhere.
Two people who believe that it can survive are John and Terese Hart, conservationists who came originally to the Congo Basin in the early 1970s. Nowadays the Harts work with a young Congolese staff and a wide range of Congolese partners on a large project known as the TL2 Conservation Landscape, a region that straddles three rivers in eastern Congo and holds not just bonobos but also forest elephants, okapis, and a peculiar, newly discovered monkey called the lesula. Bonobos are still being poached at TL2, John told me, their carcasses often transported to market by bicycle. With park status for part of TL2, antihunting regulations, support from local people, and enforcement at just a few checkpoints, he explained, that trade could be choked off. TL2 has magnificent potential, but the constraints are formidable, even for such an irrepressible, experienced man as John Hart.

In Kinshasa I joined John and Terese, and we flew into Kindu, a provincial capital in eastern Congo (and a jumping-off point to TL2) on the west bank of the Lualaba River, which defines the eastern limit of bonobo distribution. In Kindu we finally got approval for a little five-day expedition through TL2. Around four p.m.—late for a departure, but we were concerned not to lose another day—we climbed into a large dugout canoe before the officials could change their minds. We were joined by two of the Harts’ trusted Congolese colleagues, plus a visiting biologist, and a colonel and a soldier (both with Kalashnikovs) as our military escorts. There was also a man from the immigration directorate, assigned at the last minute to shadow us. The immigration man wore street shoes and carried his change of shirt in a briefcase. We’ll be out about 30 days, and you’ll need to help us kill crocodiles for food, John teased him, as the outboard pushed us weakly away from Kindu, and we set our course midstream down the Lualaba.
The river was brown, flat, and a thousand yards wide. The sun, sinking low behind the dry-season haze, looked like a great bloody yolk. I watched a pair of palm-nut vultures pass overhead and then, to the east, a flock of fruit bats circling their roost. Dusk faded quickly to dark, and the river glowed sepia with reflection from a waxing crescent moon. The air cooled; we pulled on jackets. Hours later we grounded at a village on the left bank that marked our trailhead for this hike into bonobo country. It had to be the left bank, I knew. There were no bonobos, anywhere, on the right. — David Quammen | NationalGeographic.comPhotograph by Christian Ziegler

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