Sunday, July 6, 2014

More questions about Iowa bonobo management

Noted ape researcher Frans de Waal posted an update on his public Facebook page, noting that “Kanzi is a language-trained bonobo at the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (ACCI) in Iowa.” I also referred to the latest incarnation in Iowa as ACCI, but Frans' post got me wondering (again) about what is going on in Iowa.

I checked the USDA APHIS lists for anything on ACCI. Nothing. Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary – Great Ape Trust – Bonobo Hope (yes, the federal government uses all three names) is still listed as Kanzi’s owner.


I checked the IRS listing of charitable organizations for anything on ACCI. Nothing. IPLS is registered, however.



Frans also stated that “Bill Hopkins, the new director (together with Jared Taglialatela), sends me an updated photograph of Kanzi, who has lost 20 Kg (44 pounds) in the last 6 months. BTW - The dessert contest was not their idea.”

The Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary has a Facebook page, active as of this weekend. It lists Steve Boers as director, not Bill Hopkins. That may explain why “the new director” was not able to stop the use of Kanzi in a public relations stunt: because he isn’t the director of the organization that owns and manages the bonobos?



Once again, there are more questions than answers about what the hell is happening in Iowa. I'd love to celebrate progress evidently reported by Yerkes scientists de Waal and Bill Hopkins, and Yerkes research associate Jared Taglialatela, as many are, but I'm concerned that they may not have much say-so, besides changing Kanzi's dietary regime. Who is actually in charge? And why can't the organization stay with one friggin' name? 

(And where is Sue Savage-Rumbaugh? I can’t believe she is sitting idly by…)

15 comments:

  1. I don't think Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is there anymore.

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  2. She's not at the Iowa facility, but I'm hearing rumbles of her plans to get those bonobos back.

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  3. I guess one of the bonobos died recently. And two of the others have been having health problems. Rumor has it that Hopkins & Tagliatella are only there 1 or 2 days a month and all the care is being done by volunteers.

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  4. I am Sue's very close friend, I assure you, she is NOT IDLE!!!

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    1. Any hints on what she is up to?

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    2. After having reviewed the comments about Sue on this web site, I fear this venue many not be receptive to her constructive efforts. I have known Sue for 22 years now, she is nothing short of an amazing person and I am proud to call her a dear friend. She is passionately protective of all captive apes in her care. Her facilities in Atlanta where we worked together for many years were nothing short of stellar. She runs a tight ship, she deserves nothing less than the utmost respect from us all. I am deeply saddened by the attacks on her career, as I have seen how hard she works to help people understand how special Bonobos really are. I am proud to say that I will be working with her again very soon.

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    3. It's good that you have this perspective of your friend. I'm afraid I don't understand, though -- if you are "proud to say" something, why do remain you anonymous?

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  5. If Sue happens to stumble on this post, she will know exactly who I am...that's all that really matters as far as I am concerned...

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  6. I am delighted to provide the platform for your note to... wait... IS THIS DR. SUE?? ARE YOU SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO YOURSELF??!? ROFLOL. How cute!

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    1. Hey Dawn, glad to see you have a good sense of humor! Also, thanks for not moderating my positive comments about Sue. Most appreciated!

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  7. Dawn, I'm not sure if you've seen this article, but it explains a bit about the activities of SSR. http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/08/21/the-troubling-world-of-koko-the-gorilla-and-the-decline-of-ape-language-research/

    As it is very long, here are the portions relevant. "According to Savage-Rumbaugh’s attorneys, she has been barred from access to the bonobos since spring 2013....

    The ACCI has also been embroiled in a legal dispute with Savage-Rumbaugh and her nonprofit organization Bonobo Hope. A previous legal agreement determined that the Great Ape Trust and Bonobo Hope would share ownership of the bonobos, and a recent court motion declared that ACCI was bound to the same legal responsibilities. It’s unclear, at this point, whether Savage-Rumbaugh will be allowed access to the bonobos again. Taglialatela expressed disappointment that the messy legal process took the focus away from the bonobos, saying that “it is unfortunate that Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh and the [Bonobo Hope] members appear more concerned about her access and her self-interests rather than those of the bonobos.”

    It explains a little about the crazy naming.

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    1. Thanks for posting that article from Jane Hu (originally published by Slate magazine). This is an objective -- and quite comprehensive -- explanation of Koko and Kanzi's situation, and I applaud her determination to go beyond TGF and GATI press releases.

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  8. I recently saw the documentary about Kanzi on BBC. Until then, I had no idea we had such a facility in Iowa and, being from Iowa, felt extreme pride in that. Imagine my disdain and disheartenment when I started researching where this was so I could possibly arrange to take my daughter there for a visit (she has been interested in apes her whole life and is now almost 30). How shameful that someone would/could allow the abuse (allowing them to grow obese, etc.) of these gorgeous animals. So sorry that there appears to be no way to contact them to arrange a visit as they are hiding? What a let down for something that should have been a real pride for Iowa. My opinion - if you're not going to shape up then get out.

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  9. here we go again:

    http://apeinitiative.org/

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    1. That's pretty brazen. Put up pictures of bonobos, pat yourself on the back, and ask for money. No listing of board members, annual reports, even staff. And what is even more amazing is that an uninformed public will donate without even asking "who ARE you and what are you doing with my money?"

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