Des Moines, Iowa, is home to the world-renowned bonobo language research facility Great Ape Trust. Most residents in the Greater Des Moines area are familiar with The Trust, but they lack an understanding of the non-profit organization’s mission. Trilix was challenged to design a new website to educate people about the apes, care givers, researchers and scientists that call Great Ape Trust home.
Trilix’s Interactive Department used the latest web technologies and understated color schemes to create a new website for Great Ape Trust. The website was designed as an educational tool featuring a blog, photo albums, videos of researchers interacting with the apes, an interactive Lexigram to raise awareness about the language research program and a news section to share buzzworthy articles about The Trust.
New York Times best-selling author Sara Gruen stumbled across Great Ape Trust’s website while researching her book Ape House. She paid a visit to the facility to learn more about Kanzi, the bonobo that “speaks” with humans through an interactive Lexigram. Many situations described in the book were based on Gruen’s experiences at Great Ape Trust, and the media blitz surrounding the book launched Great Ape Trust into the national spotlight.
Jeffrey Kluger, a senior writer at Time magazine learned about Great Ape Trust through Gruen’s book and featured The Trust’s language research program in his article “Inside the Minds of Animals.” Kluger made guest appearances on CNN’s American Morning and on PBS to promote the cover story and again, Great Ape Trust made national headlines.
A few weeks later, the world’s most-famous talk show host read the Time magazine cover story and sent special correspondent Lisa Ling to Des Moines to meet Kanzi and her baby Teco. When The Oprah Show aired, Great Ape Trust’s language research program was featured in the leading segment! The Des Moines Register and KCCI-TV covered Kanzi’s Oprah debut and traffic to Great Ape Trust’s website increased 26 percent the day the show aired.
To add to the excitement, the bonobo language research efforts at Great Ape Trust were featured on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. The special program "Amazing Animals: Smarter than You Think” aired multiple times and featured bonobo language research expert Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and resident bonobos Kanzi, Panbanisha, Nyota and baby Teco. Traffic to Great Ape Trust’s website jumped 29 percent the day the show aired.
Great Ape Trust’s strong web presence combined with their active media relations program helped raise awareness about their ground-breaking bonobo language research studies.