The team designing the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary in Des Moines says it’ll be a world class research center that may one day allow apes in Iowa to talk with apes in Africa. Ted Townsend, a Des Moines businessman who started the project, says it’s important to act quickly on behalf of “great apes worldwide.” An architect has designed a series of buildings in which the apes will live and interact with researchers. Townsend says the project will foster scientific exploration and provide sanctuary for the apes.Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Atlanta will bring eight bonobo apes to Des Moines to live, perhaps as soon as this fall. She says it’ll be like moving from an efficiency apartment to a mansion. Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh has a vision that the apes in Des Moines will be able to talk via satellite with apes in the wild in Africa.It will not be a zoo, and humans will be segregated from the apes as humans can infect the apes with dangerous illnesses. Townsend will not put a dollar figure on the entire project, but he says the money for building the sanctuary will come from private sources; no tax money will be used. The Des Moines City Council gave the project a tract of land that’s on the far east side of Des Moines east of Easter Lake. The ultimate goal will be to have four kinds of apes — chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos.
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