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Great Ape Trust Recognized for its Research Efforts with Bonobos and Chimpanzees

Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh with Teco

Aid for Africa member Great Ape Trust has two reasons to celebrate.  In Iowa, the Trust’s Sue Savage-Rumbaugh was named one of the TIME 100 for 2011 for her work with bonobos.  In Rwanda, the government reaffirmed its partnership with the Trust to save the Gishwati Forest, also known as the Forest of Hope, which will expand the habitat of isolated chimpanzees while benefiting biodiversity, climate and the welfare of Rwandan people living near the degraded area.

In Iowa since 2005, TIME honoree Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh, an associate program director at Great Ape Trust, has studied primate intelligence for more than 35 years.  She is the only scientist to conduct language research with bonobos who she communicates with through hundreds of pictograms. Her research in language acquisition could one day lead to new approaches in cognitive science, autism, and developmental disabilities.

In Rwanda, the Trust began the Forest of Hope project in 2007. Since then, it has expanded by 67 percent, and the chimpanzee population has increased to 15 with the birth of two infants in the past year. The project will link this isolated colony of chimps, which face certain extinction without the greater travel range through a 31-mile (50-kilometer) corridor connecting Gishwati to Nyungwe National Park, which is home to 400 chimpanzees.

Great Ape Trust, based in Des Moines, Iowa, works for the conservation of great apes—bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans—through a variety of programs. It is dedicated to understanding the origins and future of culture, language, tools and intelligence, and to the preservation of endangered great apes in their natural habitats.

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