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NOVA; Last Great Ape, The



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Last Great Ape, The
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Series Description

Premiered March 1974 NOVA is a general-interest documentary series that addresses a single science issue each week. Billed as "science adventures for curious grown-ups" when it first aired in March, 1974, NOVA continues to offer an informative and entertaining approach to a challenging subject. 1996 marked NOVA's 23rd season, which makes it the longest-running science program on national television. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over. Series release date: 3/3/1974

Program Description

Deep in the Congo lives a little-studied group of apes called the bonobos. Like chimpanzees, bonobos are among humans' closest relatives. But unlike chimps, known for their violent behavior, bonobos are far more peaceful, even matriarchal. They embrace their neighbors and resolve conflict in an usual way -- by having sex. Much like humans, bonobos have sex not just to procreate, but also for pleasure. The discovery of these more gentle ape traits have fascinated scientists and led them to question our origins and the roots of human nature as a whole. But in 1997, just as research on these elusive apes was getting off the ground, civil war broke out in the Congo. Bonobo researchers were forced to evacuate immediately, leaving behind the astonishing apes they were studying. Now, years later, NOVA returns to the Congo with veteran bonobo researchers who are worried that war and the bush meat industry may have decimated the bonobo population. What they find gives them hope for the future of the species. The program tells the intimate, emotional story of these amazing apes, detailing their survival, and the experiences of the scientists who have followed them so closely for so long.

Working Title: Bonobos



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “NOVA; Last Great Ape, The,” 01/19/2007, GBH Archives, accessed November 29, 2023,
MLA: “NOVA; Last Great Ape, The.” 01/19/2007. GBH Archives. Web. November 29, 2023. <>.
APA: NOVA; Last Great Ape, The. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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