Our evening starts with dinner, featuring spectacular courses from our beautiful state of Colorado. Your admission also includes two drink tickets redeemable for an 'Orangarita' specialty cocktail (in honor of Cinco De Mayo), wine or beer. A full cash bar will also be available throughout the night.
Over dinner, you'll hear short talks on research and conservation by world-leading great ape experts. All proceeds from the evening, including from our incredible silent auction, will benefit their critical work to protect great apes.
We'll end the night with a concert featuring PHOENIX, one of the top-rated classic rock bands in the country. Known for their powerful, high-energy performances, incredible vocals and musicianship, PHOENIX is simply the best cover band you'll see anywhere!
Dr Graham L Banes returns for Rock of Apes IV, in his twelfth year of studying orangutans. As a field researcher, Dr Banes has been primarily based in Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park, where he identified the world’s largest population of orangutans1, disentangled their social and sexual behavior2, and determined that historical reintroductions have led to hybridization in the wild between subspecies3. His discoveries have been featured extensively in the international press, notably by The Washington Post, in Science magazine, and in the PBS documentary, Sex in the Wild: Orangutans. Dr Banes studied Zoology at the University of British Columbia, Canada before graduating from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He later earned Master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Cambridge, following an 18-month residency at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. As a Fellow of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2013-2016), he then visited more than 150 zoos across China, working tirelessly to improve the welfare of orangutans and other great apes. For this, he was honored with a Chinese-language profile by The New York Times. Dr Banes is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and directs the Molecular Ecology and Evolution Laboratory at the nearby Henry Vilas Zoo. He returns to tell us more about his ongoing work in China, partly funded with the proceeds of Rock of Apes II & III, including the construction of several new orangutan exhibits, the results of genetic testing, and the development of the Orangutan Animal Care Guide: the first official, Chinese-language husbandry guide for any non-endemic animal species. Dr Banes has a wicked sense of humor, so we suggest you come early and start drinking long before he does. Learn more about his work at www.grahamlbanes.com.
Patti Ragan is the founder of the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, FL, which provides a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research, or from the exotic pet trade. The Center has its roots in the rainforests of Tanjung Puting National Park, where, in 1984, Patti Ragan spent several months volunteering on a rehabilitation project for wild orangutans. During this intense time of living with orangutans and gaining experience caring for orphaned infants, Patti learned to love and appreciate the quiet and gentle nature of these animals. She was subsequently asked in 1990 to help care for a four-week old infant orangutan who was held at a tourist attraction in Miami. Believing that the infant was going to eventually be sent to live with other orangutans at an accredited zoo, she was surprised to learn that the owner intended to sell the baby orangutan to a circus trainer. However, because of a serious illness that affected the infant, he was not sold and the owner agreed to allow Patti the opportunity to find an appropriate home for the infant. She soon learned that accredited zoos did not want a mixed Bornean/Sumatran orangutan, especially one that was hand-raised. Realizing that there were no opportunities for placement in an accredited zoo, and that there would never be a chance for him to live in the wild, Patti set out to find a sanctuary for the orangutan infant: there wasn't one. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to care for a three-month-old baby chimpanzee — and quickly decided to start her own sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees. Four years later, in beautiful and tropical wooded habitat surrounded by orange groves and away from development, Patti opened what is now the Center for Great Apes: more than 100 acres of sanctuary for chimpanzees and orangutans. She returns to Rock of Apes IV to update us on the sanctuary's progress over the last year, including the arrival of several new orangutans, which benefitted from part of the proceeds from Rock of Apes II & III. Learn more at www.centerforgreatapes.org.
Dr Gary Shapiro was the first person (1973-1975) to teach a symbolic communication system to an orangutan4 (at what is now Fresno Chaffee Zoo, CA) and the first person to teach sign language to orangutans in the species' natural environment5, in the forests of Indonesia's Tanjung Puting National Park (1978-1980; 1981). It was there that he met his adopted daughter, Princess: an orangutan who learned more than 30 signs, which she used to express her interests, to ask for items and to describe her environment. Princess also joined seven other orangutans in a study of sign learning which became Dr Shapiro's dissertation project6. During his time in Indonesian Borneo, he also assisted in the rehabilitation efforts of dozens of orangutans confiscated from the illegal pet trade and monitored the phenology of local rain forest ecosystem. Dr Shapiro received his doctorate in Zoology in 1985 from the University of Oklahoma, returning to Tanjung Puting the following year to conduct post-doctoral freshwater ecology studies. He was later the co-founder and vice president of the Orangutan Foundation International (1986-2004). In late 2004, Dr Shapiro and his Indonesian wife, Inggriani, were inspired to create the Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (OUREI), a nonprofit project (operating under Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs), in response to the education needs underscoring the crisis facing orangutans today, particularly in Sumatra. Dr Shapiro returns to Rock of Apes IV to share updates from his Orangutan Caring Scholarship program, having awarded 130 scholarship and research grants to deserving Indonesian and international students (2006-2017). Recent scholarships were partly funded with the proceeds of Rock of Apes II & III. Learn more at www.orangutanrepublik.org.
Ronna Phelps has been involved with orangutan conservation for more than 20 years and actively contributes to numerous orangutan organizations and endeavors. She notably developed the first nationally and internationally distributed palm oil-free body care line. Ronna has worked with many schools to educate children and teachers about the palm-oil crisis that faces the forest and its inhabitants in Indonesia and Malaysia, and volunteers on a regular basis at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, FL, where she also serves as a board member. She has been a volunteer at the Denver Zoo for 21 years. In October 2014, Ronna received the Pongo Award for her work in the beauty and healthcare industry, presented by Dr Gary Shapiro of Orangutan Republik and the actor and environmentalist, Ed Begley Jr.
1. Banes, G. L. (2009). The effects of forest disturbance on the population density of the Bornean orang-utan in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Folia Primatologica, 80(2), 110 and Banes, G. L. et al. in submission (2018).↩
2. Banes, G. L., Galdikas, B. M. F. and Vigilant, L. (2015). Male orang-utan bimaturism and reproductive success at Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesia. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 69(11), 1785-1794.↩
3. Banes, G. L., Galdikas, B. M. F. and Vigilant, L. (2016). Reintroduction of confiscated and displaced endangered mammals risks outbreeding and introgression in natural populations. Scientific Reports, 6:22026. Now available in Spanish.↩
4. Shapiro, G. L. (1982). Sign acquisition in a home-reared/free-ranging orangutan: Comparisons with other signing apes. American Journal of Primatology, 3, 121–129.↩
5. Shapiro, G. and Galdikas, B. M. F. (1995). Attentiveness of orangutans within the sign learning context. In: R. D. Nadler, B. M. F. Galdikas, L. Sheeran and R. Rosen (Eds.), The Neglected Ape, pp. 199-212. New York: Plenum Press.↩
6. Shapiro, G. L. (1985). Factors influencing the variance in sign learning performance by four juvenile orangutans. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Oklahoma.↩
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