Iowa Ape Initiative Vandalized and Broken Into Twice in a Week
I'd like to think most people have a great respect for animals, would like to do their best to help conserve the environment, and are in support of anything we can do to help a variety of animal species survive and thrive in the wild and in captivity.
Clearly, some folks out there don't feel that way.
According to WHO13, "Two incidents of vandalism and break-ins occurred at the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative facility in less than a week." The facility is located in Des Moines, Iowa.
On Saturday, August 27, the Initiative was broken into, and several pieces of equipment were stolen from the facility.
Then, just a few days later on Thursday, September 1, their guard shack window was shattered. Whether or not the separate break-ins were related has yet to be determined by law enforcement. Both incidents are still under investigation and no suspects have been shared with the public.
Luckily, none of the staff or the bonobos in the space were harmed in either of the break-ins.
WHO13 says that this isn't the only string of incidents the Initiative has run into surrounding its SE 45th Street location: "There have been multiple cases of vandalism, trespassing, and criminal activity around the sanctuary for years. The sanctuary has had issues in the past with reckless drivers speeding down the dead-end road the facility is located on. Two years ago an uninsured driver crashed into the facility's security fence and caused thousands of dollars in damage."
Currently, the Ape Initiative is working to put forth a request to the city of Des Moines to prohibit entry on SE 45th Street in order to stave off further incidents.
The website for the facility says "The Ape Initiative is the only research facility in the world dedicated to the study and conservation of the species most closely related to humans – the endangered bonobo."
It adds that bonobos are an "endangered species of African Great Ape with as few as 15,000 - 20,000 individuals in the wild. Understanding bonobo behavior, and how they interact with one another, is critical if we are going to save them. That’s why we developed a scientifically grounded conservation education program for students of all ages. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of scientists and educators by promoting scientific literacy and environmental stewardship."