An Iowa based ape research center is facing a bit of a financial crisis after receiving notice that the sole benefactor will be cutting off his support. Ted Townsend, who founded the Great Ape Trust, informed the center’s staff of his decision Wednesday to cease funding the center at the end of this year.
The Great Ape Trust opened in Des Moines in 2004 and currently has up to a dozen staff members who study and care for several bonobos. The center’s spokesman, Al Setka, says the Great Ape Trust has begun the process of seeking more traditional research funding sources to stay afloat.
“We’re confident that the funds can be raised so the pioneering work that is done here in Iowa with these bonobos will continue for many years to come,” Setka said. The center’s budget has been cut by 25% of what it once was. Setka says the center’s scientific team has been aggressively pursuing research dollars from foundations, granting institutions and other organizations for the past year-and-a-half in anticipation of Townsend’s announcement.
“They feel confident that funding will come about, but it likely won’t be obtained until the back half of 2012,” Setka said. So, the center is seeking what Setka is calling “bridge funds.” He says donations are needed to carry the Great Ape Trust from the end of this year through the time those research grants begin.
Setka says several potential donors – both individuals and organizations – have been identified in Iowa and outside the state. The center’s research has received national attention in Time magazine and has been featured on “Oprah” and “Anderson Cooper’s 360.”
Setka says a film crew from the BBC recently visited the Great Ape Trust as well.