Berkeley langurs go to Primarily Primates
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1997:
SAN ANTONIO––After 25 years in the hills above
Berkeley, California, at a quiet facility overlooking Tilden
Regional Park, the University of California’s 14 Hanuman langur
monkeys are to go to Primarily Primates, of Leon Springs,
Texas, by January 1, 1998. The langurs, native to India and
Pakistan, have been used in non-invasive behavioral study.
University funding for the Berkeley site ended this
fiscal year, raising activist concern––despite repeated university
denials––that the langurs might be killed. All captive-born,
and all neutered, they could not be returned to the wild.
While the Coalition to Free the Langur Monkeys
demonstrated and petitioned to “save” the colony, led by In
Defense of Animals staffer Josh Trenter, a U.C. Berkeley team
headed by Roy Henrickson, DVM, former campus head of
animal care, reviewed the roster of zoos, sanctuaries, and
wildlife parks willing to take the langurs. The team decided the
two best choices were Primarily Primates and another San
Antonio-area sanctuary, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation.
The two are longtime rivals. Primarily Primates is
the oldest primate sanctuary in the U.S.; WRR is among the
oldest sanctuaries for carnivores. About six years ago, as tension
between the two escalated, WRR began accepting primates––directly
competing with Primarily Primates for primates
involved in high-profile rescues or coming with stipends.
Primarily Primates founder Wallace Swett then withdrew from
participation in forming The Association of Wildlife
Sanctuaries, which WRR founder Lyn Cuny served as a founding
board member and now heads.
“Both sanctuaries were very good,” Henrickson
reported after making on-site visits, “but Primarily Primates is
a refuge specializing in primates and they are very interested in
vegetation that will provide useful browse and entertainment
for the monkeys,” who are of the leaf-eating monkey class,
also including the colubus family.
A problem at WRR would be the constant sight,
sounds, and smells of animals who might eat langurs if able.
Completing a deal to send the langurs to Primarily
Primates for the remainder of their natural lives, U.C. Berkeley
paid the sanctuary $38,000 for caging construction, and
pledged to provide another $20,000 toward upkeep.
As the announcement was drafted, Trenter, In
Defense of Animals president Elliot Katz, and IDA veterinarian
Sheri Speede mounted a campaign against the decision,
which Trenter called “absolutely unacceptable.” All three
asked U.C. Berkeley officials to favor WRR. Someone mailed
the university decision-makers and local media copies of a
dossier originally compiled by John Holrah of San Antonio
Voices for Animals in 1992, in which former volunteers and
staff of Primarily Primates issued numerous serious charges
against Swett and his partner Stephen Tello. But many of them
had been dismissed for significant cause. [See “Feces-flinging
in the Texas sun,” ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996.] Don Barnes, a former National Anti-Vivisection
Society staffer whom acquaintances say is now consulting for
WRR, supported the campaign by Trenter et al with a scathing
letter about Primarily Primates that he said he wrote “as an
Barnes told a very different story while with NAVS,
a major Primarily Primates funder. In May 1996, for instance,
Barnes wrote to National Chimpanzee Sanctuary project coordinator
Michael McGeHee that the only problems he had ever
seen at Primarily Primates were minor, and common to all
sanctuaries and zoos. On his most recent visit, Barnes told
McGeHee, “I found the place in excellent condition. I was
accompanied by a local animal rights activist who had heard
several horror stories about Primarily Primates from an ex-volunteer.
My companion looked long and hard at the place, and
could not find any of the horrors he had been warned about. In
fact, he was quite impressed with the facility and with the people
he met there.”
Barnes seemed especially impressed with the attention
Primarily Primates paid to the psychological needs of 14
ex-laboratory chimpanzees acquired from the Buckshire
Corporation in mid-1996.
“They are being observed daily by a psychologist,
Linda Brant, from the Southwest Texas Research Foundation,”
Barnes wrote, “who is doing a paper on their adaptation to
group living. Both she and Wally certainly have come to recognize
the subtleties of each of these animals individually. I
am delighted these animals are now at Primarily Primates.”
Much of the vitriol directed at Primarily Primates by
rivals and supporters of rivals in recent years may have to do
with the emergence of the facility as the sanctuary most preferred
by researchers for the retirement of their personal
favorite primates––a distinction which often brings funding.
But Swett and Tello often announce their successes
only informally, with handscrawled notes like the postscript
Swett appended to a recent comment on an ANIMAL PEOPLE
book review. “Oh by the way,” he said, “recently Dr.
Jim Mahoney arranged for Onan,” brother of the celebrated
Nim Chimpsky, who is at the Fund for Animals’ Black Beauty
Ranch but may soon be integrated into one of the chimp
colonies at Primarily Primates, “to come to us instead of being
transferred to Frederick Coulston,” the supplier of primates to
biomedical research who acquired most of the other chimps
formerly belonging to the Laboratory for Experimental
Medicine and Surgery In Primates. “Mahoney is amazing,”
Swett continued, “almost the Oscar Schindler to chimps.”
Mahoney was third-in-command at LEMSIP, formerly
an arm of New York University, under founder Jan
Moor-Jankowski and M. Louis Dinetz. Moor-Jankowski was
fired in 1995, after running LEMSIP for 30 years as one of the
best-reputed primate labs in the world, and Dintez was fired
with him, as NYU closed LEMSIP shortly after the two complained
about allegedly abusive conditions in another NYU primate
lab run by Ronald Wood. The USDA eventually fined
NYU $450,000 for those conditions, the largest fine ever
levied under the Animal Welfare Act. Moor-Jankowski and
Wood are now pursuing a whistle-blower lawsuit against NYU.
No more monkeys!
The already burgeoning supply of surplus laboratory
primates needing homes grew by about 1,000 on September 4,
when judge Sandra Taylor of Monroe County, Florida,
ordered Charles River Laboratories to evacuate all uncaged rhesus
macaques from Raccoon Key and Key Lois, off southern
Florida, within two years. A division of the Bauch & Laumb
eyecare product company, Charles River is the world’s largest
supplier of animals to biomedical research, but has claimed to
have nowhere else to put the macaques, who have been on the
islands in a semi-natural situation since 1973.
Health Canada on September 11 temporarily
reprieved 115 macacques who were longterm survivors of a 20-
year-old study on the effects of early pesticide and/or lead
exposure on dementia and other diseases associated with aging.
Reported the Ottawa Citizen, “The 115 monkeys, naturally
sociable and inquisitive, live singly in cages the size of a dishwasher.”
Said Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
experimental animals committee chair Stephanie Brown,
“Maybe they are better off dying now than living another five
to 10 years like that.” However, the 115 have now been added
to an inventory of 750 other surplus macaques for whom Health
Canada is seeking either a cash-paying customer or a sanctuary.
Primarily Primates, already looking after nearly 500 animals,
has offered to take them––if Health Canada pays the costs of
housing and upkeep.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on September
16 that “more than 60 baboons” at the Royal Prince Alfred
Hospital in Wallacia, Australia, “are to be put down because
they have bred too successfully and are now overcrowded” at a
facility which had come under critical scrutiny from the Animal
Research Review Panel, a body appointed by the Ministry of
Agriculture to review laboratory animal conditions. The Royal
SPCA dispatched an inspector to the site; security guards used
guard dogs to keep the inspector out. Finally allowed in, however,
the inspector to his surprise found conditions were
“excellent,” said RSPCA chief executive Charles Wright.
Six of eight baboons who were freed from longterm
asbestos inhalation studies in November 1996 are thriving at
the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education in
Phalaborwa, South Africa, the Cape Town Star reported on
August 29. Thirty baboons who actually breathed asbestos
were killed during the experiments, and two of the control
group died soon after they were released from the National
Centre for Occupational Health.
“When the research baboons first arrived,” said
CARE spokesperson Gien Elsas, “they just stared at their surroundings
for days because the grass, the insects, and the open
spaces had become so foreign to them. We felt that even if