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Great Ape Trust Executive Has Resigned

Perry Beeman

Des Moines Register

June 29, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

Des Moines, Ia. -- Kirk Brocker, who ran the Great Ape Trust of Iowa during its construction and early operation, resigned last month, a trust staffer confirmed Thursday.

No reason for Brocker's departure was given.

Brocker was executive director of the primate research center in southeast Des Moines, near Easter Lake, when his job was split.

Long-time Des Moines businessman Jim Aipperspach became director of operations, dealing with the physical plant. Brocker, who had been executive director since the organization was formed in early 2002, became director of education outreach last November.

Previously, Brocker has worked on another project backed by trust founder Ted Townsend: the long-delayed indoor rainforest and education center that now is called Earthpark and is still looking for a site.

Brocker, a native of Anita, was director of the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines from 1986 to 1996.

“Great Ape Trust has an important story to share with the world; a story based on the science of ape intelligence, but one that impacts the way we all look at ourselves and the way that we treat our planet," Brocker said in November. “It is an honor and a privilege to work alongside the apes and scientists of the Trust as we share their discoveries.”

The facility is home to eight bonobos and three orangutans and recently set up a system to hold tours by reservation. The center studies the cognitive skills, social behaviors and conservation needs of great apes.