By the end of this month, the first residents of Great Ape Trust of Iowa will arrive at their new home in Des Moines. Organizers of Great Ape Trust announced today that Azy and Indah, two orangutans, will be transferred to the world-class research center on September 28, from the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park in Washington, DC. Brother and sister, the two are believed to be the first orangutans to live in Iowa.
"We are quickly approaching a monumental day for Azy, Indah and everyone associated with Great Ape Trust," says Dr. Rob Shumaker, director of the Great Ape Trust orangutan research program. "None of this would be possible without the generosity and cooperation from the National Zoo - for that we are most grateful."
Azy, 26, and Indah, 24, were born in captivity and have spent most of their lives at the National Zoo, where they've been part of Shumaker's research program, the Orangutan Language Project, since 1995. The two will undergo the required pre-shipment physicals in early September before being transferred to Iowa by a chartered air carrier on the 28th.
"Azy and Indah will be the first of many great apes to call Iowa home," says Ted Townsend, founder of Great Ape Trust. "This is just the beginning of a fabulous scientific journey that will explore the intelligence, communication and social interactions of our closet living relatives."
While the staff of Great Ape Trust prepare for the arrival of orangutans, construction progresses on the bonobo facility - that building is expected to be completed in early 2005. A family of bonobos will be transferred to Great Ape Trust from Georgia State University's Language Research Center near Atlanta. Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, whose work with Kanzi has been documented internationally, will direct the bonobo research program at Great Ape Trust.
Great Ape Trust began as the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary in early 2002. In June of 2003, work crews began developing the former sand and gravel quarry near the Des Moines River.
Located about five miles southeast of downtown Des Moines on more than 200 acres of lowlands, river woodland and lakes, Great Ape Trust of Iowa will be the largest great ape facility in North America and one of the first worldwide to include all four types of great ape: bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans for the study of their cognitive and communicative capabilities.
* ON THE WEB: To learn more about Great Ape Trust of Iowa, go to www.GreatApeTrust.org.