Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Former Great Ape Trust employees retain lawyer, call for disclosures

Yesterday a group of 11 former employees representing approximately 50 years of collective research and work with primates, issued a press release through their recently retained lawyer.

Due to continued threatened legal action against the group of former employees who came forward with their concerns, the former employees have retained legal counsel, Angela Campbell at Dickey & Campbell Law Firm.

Management at the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary,
which permits children to have access to ape
facilities, is under fire.
In the release from Campbell’s firm, the former employees (informally known as the Bonobo 12, but evidently minus one) called on the Great Ape Trust / Bonobo Hope / Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary to issue a written report of its specific findings in the investigation of the bonobos’ welfare at their facility. The investigation was spurred by concerns voiced by the Bonobo 12, and this latest request follows the death of the bonobo Panbanisha, as well as the administrative leave – and subsequent reinstatement – of Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh.

Without access to those materials, the former employees say they are “unable to comment on any comment made by IPLS about the prior investigation or the thoroughness of the private, internal investigation.”

The IPLS has reportedly issued a press release dismissing the concerns of the former employees, although (at the time this is written) it hasn’t been posted to its website. It supposedly references a prior internal investigation from December of 2011, as well as materials and interviews possessed by the internal investigatory committee. The former employees say they were not provided copies of the “prior investigatory report, nor were they privy to the materials used by the internal investigators.” 

“Bonobos are a unique and prized endangered species, and the individual bonobos at the Sanctuary are at the forefront of language research in non-human apes. The Great Ape Trust should come forward with all information it has regarding the death of Panbanisha, and the current health of the remaining bonobos,” said Dr. Janni Pedersen, an assistant professor of anthropology who did her dissertation research while at the Great Ape Trust.

“External, independent, and transparent investigations bring with them a level of credibility and reliability that secret, internal investigations do not. We encourage transparency in this process for the protection of the bonobos,” said Daniel Musgrave, a former caretaker, research assistant and education coordinator at IPLS who obtained his master’s degree in biological anthropology while doing independent research at the facility.

According to the press release, “the former employees have no other comments at this time, pending the release of Panbanisha’s necropsy results and a formal decision whether to release the internal investigatory materials utilized by the Board in reaching its most recent decision.” 

I wonder if we should all hold our collective breaths, waiting for disclosure by the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary.

1 comment:

  1. Read and posted to facebook. If there is something more I could do, I would welcome suggestions...Mari (Omaha, NE)