Swett keeps Primarily Primates

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

SAN ANTONIO, Texas––Conclu-
ding that charges of mismanagement against
Primarily Primates founder and president
Wallace Swett were much less serious than he
had been led to believe, Texas assistant attor-
ney general John Vinson on November 16
dropped a petition to remove Swett from the
sanctuary in exchange for structural conces-
sions. To improve oversight, Swett is to
expand the present five-member board to
seven members, of whom four must live with-
in 100 miles of the San Antonio facility. In
addition, Primarily Primates will no longer be
a membership-controlled organization with
Swett as the sole voting member, which in
effect gave him veto power over the board.

Separately but simultaneously,
Swett dropped lawsuits against former board
members Melissa Karon and Kay Trevino,
who had cooperated with Vinson’s investiga-
tion. Actions are still underway between
Primarily Primates and attorney Steven Wise,
of Boston. Wise contends Primarily Primates
owes his firm $59,080 in connection with
seven different cases he handled for Swett
over a period of several years. When one of
them, a major trust case, was settled in favor
of Primarily Primates last spring, Wise
deemed the debt payable and submitted the
bill. Contesting the amount, Swett withheld
payment, and fired Wise, just as another
major case involving the receipt of kinkajous
allegedly stolen from vivisector Carey
Chevalier was to go to trial. That case has
consequently been delayed. Wise took a num-
ber of matters pertaining to Primarily Primates
to Vinson soon after that. Swett told A N I-
MAL PEOPLE that as a pressure ploy,
Wise revived a number of charges which were
made against him by disgruntled former staff
and volunteers in 1992. Wise himself was
instrumental in refuting those charges, as were
Karon and Trevino. However, according to
Karon and Trevino, the largely spurious 1992
allegations did grow out of several real man-
agement problems, including lack of account-
ability and erratic behavior on Swett’s part.
Of particular concern have been
repeated claims from numerous sources that
the Primarily Primates animals sometimes are
not fed on weekends, when Swett and assis-
tant Stephen Tello are alone on the premises.
Swett acknowledges that the several large car-
nivores at Primarily Primates fast on Sundays,
in keeping with standard zoo practice; they
don’t eat every day in the wild. The primates,
he says, are always fed.
Both Swett and Wise pronounced
themselves satisfied with the November 16
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