DES MOINES (AP) — A financially troubled ape sanctuary near Des Moines on Tuesday met a short-term fundraising goal to avert its immediate shutdown, though its future remains uncertain.
The Bonobo Hope Ape Sanctuary raised $50,000. Great Ape Board Chairman Kenneth Schweller said the short-time fundraising success buys some time, but whether the center can remain permanently in Des Moines depends upon whether the organization can continue to raise money.
“If we did not raise that money, then we would have no option. We would be relocating and making those plans today,” Schweller said.
The facility was originally a research institution with bonobos and orangutans. It was converted to a sanctuary after its founder, Ted Townsend, pulled financing late last year.
The sanctuary was known as the Great Ape Trust. It was founded in 2004 on 230 acres in southeast Des Moines. It was home to as many as six orangutans. The last two orangutans were sent to an ape center in Florida in January. Seven bonobos remain.
Townsend had planned to phase out his spending as research grants came in, but the center's scientists failed to attract much grant money and published few professional papers. At one point, the trust spent more than $4 million a year and had a staff of several dozen employees.
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