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December 6, 2001 Students design play structures for bored chimpanzees



Kiosk model

A close-up of a model of an information kiosk.

Gloria Grow, Diana Goodrich

Gloria Grow and Diana Goodrich, members of the Fauna Foundation, look at a model by students Kerry Harmer, Morgan Charles and Karla Smith.

by Barbara Black

The students in Howard Davies’ design course may have enriched the lives of an unusual local population – 18 chimpanzees living in a South Shore shelter.

The Fauna Foundation is a privately-run, government-certified non-profit organization that serves as a sanctuary for neglected and abused farm and circus animals and former biomedical research chimpanzees.

Intelligent and athletic, these chimpanzees needed challenging play structures. Fauna itself was also looking for a design for a publicity kiosk that would use graphic and digital media to communicate information about their activities, and about such controversial issues as the use of animals in the entertainment business.

The students worked on the project over five weeks in October and November in DART 310, a core course in the Design Art program that looks at ways young designers can use their skills for the greater community.

Davies, who is a professional designer as well as their teacher, was contacted by Fauna last summer.

“I was pretty sure that this was the perfect type of problem for our students in this particular course,” he said. “Not only does it offer an opportunity for them to learn something about the pros and cons of animal testing, but it also took advantage of a wide range of skills, including two- and three-dimensional design, as well as digital.”

The students were delighted to be able present their work to the Fauna group on Nov. 28. They made a party out of it, with vegetarian cuisine. For their part, the Fauna Foundation intends to build some of the play structures and kiosks in the next few months, and will use the models and drawings produced by the students as a method of fundraising.

For more information about the Fauna Foundation, consult their Web site, at www.faunafoundation.org.