NAPLES, Italy – In a historic first, a bonobo gave birth to a human baby! Carla and Angelo Cornetto used the bonobo as a surrogate mother. And it went off without a hitch!
“All four are doing absolutely “primo” – the bonobo, the human mother and father and their brand new 8-pound boy, Marco.” Dr. Gino Basillio told the magazine Oggi in an interview at his private clinic here, 30 minutes after delivering the infant by cesarean.
Declared proud mama Angela Cornetto, a 39-year-old nutritionist: “For my husband Carlo and me, this baby is the answer to our prayers – a gift from God. Having a child to love fulfills our lives. We couldn’t be happier.
Last December, according to Oggi, Dr. Basillio and his team removed an egg from Angela’s ovary. They fertilized it with Carlo’s sperm. They implanted the embryo into the womb of a 350-pount, 14-year-old bonobo from the national zoo named Minka.
Carlo and I have been trying to become parents since we were married in 2013. I’ve had seven miscarriages. It’s been heartbreaking until now. I just have been unable to carry a baby,” Angela told Oggi.
Carlo, a bricklayer, explained the choice of a bonobo surrogate instead of a human female: “I have an older sister who, like my wife, couldn’t carry her own children. She paid a woman to carry her baby, and when the child was born the woman sued to keep it. She became attached. Angela and I – after all that we’ve been through with the miscarriages – couldn’t face any more disappointment.”
Mina was chosen to be surrogate because “she’s a very special bonobo,” said Dr. Basillio.
“She’s known as “Super-Mom’ at the zoo. She gave birth to the first of her own babies in 2015 and has since had two more of her own. Until Minka had her own pregnancies, no bonobo has been born at any zoo in Europe for 20 years. It’s very rare for a great ape in captivity to be bred successfully.
“When it came time to deliver the Cornetto’s baby girl, we sedated Mina and then placed her under general anesthesia in an operating theater we built at the zoo for the very purpose. Mina felt no fear or pain and is recovering nicely.
“She’s a very gentle and loving animal and, in fact, we even allowed her to hold Maria so that a photograph of them could be taken.”