Developers of an ape facility in Iowa invited reporters this morning to visit the site where a refuge and research facility is beginning construction. Promoter Ted Townsend says it’ll be a park-like setting near the capital city. It’s 137 acres southeast of Des Moines, bordered by the Des Moines river with some forestland, and in a flood plain. Townsend says it will be a natural kind of environment for the four kinds of “great ape” that will live at the “Primate Learning Sanctuary.” Bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, each will live on an island of its own at the facility. Don’t plan on packing up the kids and visiting in the near future, though. In time they intend to let visitors come, but the first priority is making a comfortable home for the apes. Townsend says none of the apes ever lived in a “natural habitat,” Africa or Indonesia, but were all born in this country — and wouldn’t last a day and a half in the wild. The organizers of the Primate Learning Sanctuary plan to do “cognitive research” using the apes.
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