My mind tonight is on the poor bonobos at Great Ape Trust / Bonobo Hope / Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. I gaze at this picture of Kanzi, and I see a heart attack waiting to happen. This is the picture of an obese ape who is likely on death's doorstep.
And poor Panbanisha, with her very abnormal labial swelling. She carries it in her hands. (This is a screen grab from a CNN video, showing Panbanisha from the rear. How can Savage-Rumbaugh look at this gross abnormality and grin?)
Experts who know much more than I tell me that Kanzi and Panbanisha and the others are emotional and physical wrecks.
The Great Ape Trust bonobos must have time to give their minds and bodies a chance to relax. They need to let it all out in a safe environment, where they can trust the humans. It will be tough at first, I'm sure, but it will get better once they figure out that they will never be hurt again. That people respect their needs. They will make new pals, they will learn to play, and they will participate in their own health care. Cognition work will go on. Finally, life gets better, health improves, and social skills are learned.
Life for the bonobos will spiral upwards once they are removed from their current condition, receive therapy, learn new routines and, above all, get lots of love. With professional care, they will thrive.
Unless this drags on. Unless they are already too far gone for rehabilitation.
I hope with all of my heart that, one day soon, the Board of Directors will give the Iowa bonobos a new chance at life. Or they will have to explain to a global community why they turned their backs on apes who don’t have a chance without them.
These are the men and women who can give the bonobos their chance. These members of the Board of Directors have their own chance to do something good. Remember their names.
- Margo Blumenthal, Secretary, Blumenthal Inc. (Des Moines)
- Sally Coxe, President, Bonobo Conservation Initiative
- Ursula Goodenough, Professor, Department of Biology, Washington University of St. Louis
- Nancy Howell, Professor of Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Saint Paul School of Theology
- Paul Lasley, Professor of Sociology, Iowa State University
- Ramon Lim, Emeritus Professor of Neurology, University of Iowa
- David Olisar, Marketing Manager, Tellabs Inc.
- Ken Schweller, Professor of Computer Science and Psychology, Buena Vista University
- H. Dieter Steklis, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Adjunct Professor of Psychology, University of Arizona South
- Ed Wasserman, Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Iowa
- Derek E. Wildman, Associate Professor, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University