Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Panbanisha is dead

Bonobo Panbanisha is dead.

Now will the board of directors at the Great Ape Trust Bonobo Hope House of Disaster act?

Panbanisha is one of the bonobos at the facility where executive director Sue Savage-Rumbaugh has been temporarily suspended, pending a friendly board “investigation” of charges leveled against her by former caregivers and others (known as the Bonobo 12).

According to a report from KCCI, Des Moines, “Great Ape Trust board Chairman Dr. Ken Schweller said Panbanisha likely died from complications from a cold. The center is waiting for a full report from a veterinarian.”

Shit! I feel like puking.

The current and former members of the Great Ape Trust / Bonobo Hope / Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary board of directors ignored our demand to give these bonobos a chance. It is evident, now, that members of the Bonobo Species Survival Plan need to make a vigorous push to care for the apes, and the board needs to listen. With the other bonobos sick with colds as well, they need to act. Obviously, the small animal vet they have on hand was not able to save Panbanisha, but maybe with the help of actual ape experts, they can save the rest of the bonobos.

Savage-Rumbaugh sent a self-serving email to board members, informing them of the death. I can't stomach printing all of it here (see the full text on the West Des Moines Patch website), but I find Savage-Rumbaugh's statement that "now [Panbanisha] is free, free at last" to be particularly galling, as if there was no choice in the conditions that killed this wonderful ape.

Panbanisha was 27 years old. Healthy female bonobos in captivity are expected to live into their 50s.

UPDATE, Nov 13 2012: Per their usual flailing approach to fundraising, it isn't surprising that the organization is now leveraging this tragic death into a pitch for donations -- to build a visitor's center! One would think that hiring professional caregivers would be a higher priority.


For background on the fears for the health and safety of the bonobos, see We believe… there is an immediate danger to the apes’ health and lives, a statement from the Bonobo 12.

One of the former caregivers, Daniel Musgrave, wrote a desperately poignant essay, QUIET HIDE

More on Great Ape Trust...

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