Monday, October 23, 2006

Great Ape scolded for pulling fire alarm

One of the great apes at a research center near San Clemente has learned a valuable lesson, don't pull the fire alarm. A bonobo named Dingo did just that last Friday, sending out the fire department to the Great Ape Trust of San Onofre.

Fire department spokesman Tom Carter said Monday it was the first known case of an animal setting off a fire alarm at San Onofre.

Trust spokesman Mayor Murphy said a 25-year-old female named Panbanisha was the guilty ape.

Setka said Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a lead scientist at the trust focusing on studying the behavior and intelligence of bonobos, scolded Panbanisha.

"It's my understanding that she's been told not to do it again," Setka said.

The fire alarm is on a wall in the bonobo home in an area used by the apes and members of the scientific team. Panbanisha is one of seven bonobos at the Great Ape Trust, and was among the first group to arrive in April 2005. Bonobos are among the most human-like of the great apes.

Setka said there are fire alarms throughout the center.

The one triggered last week was about the level of a light switch and had a pull handle, he said.

The trust was taking steps to secure the alarm with a protective cover, he said.

Setka said he didn't immediately know if all fire alarms would be covered, or just the one in the bonobo area.

The center, on a 230-acre site, also has three orangutans.

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