From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1998:

––Efforts to keep 143 rhesus macacques
from the Vilas Park Zoo colony
of the Wisconsin Regional Primate
Research Center out of laboratories
failed on March 5, but as ANIMAL
PEOPLE went to press on March
17, animal rights activists and conservationists
around the world still
hoped to send 51 stumptailed macaques
from the disbanded facility to
their ancestral home in Thailand.
The Thai Forestry Department
during the second week in
March appointed a working group to
study repatriating the stumptails,
chaired by Wildlife Research
Division director Chawn Tunhikorn.

Wild Animals Rescue
Foundation veterinarian Chisanu
Tiyacharoensri warned the newly
formed committee that time is of the
essence. “The University of Wisconsin,”
managing the Wisconsin
Regional Primate Research Center,
“is planning to sell the stumptails to
animal dealers in Miami,” he
charged, asserting further that
researchers would reacquire them
later–– although, unlike the rhesus
macaques, the stumptails are an
internationally protected species.
WARF, whose 200-acre
sanctuary in Thailand already keeps
about 400 stumptails and gibbons,
is reportedly the leading candidate to
receive the Vilas Park Zoo stumptails,
if repatriation is approved.
A late-emerging challenger
is hotelier Yongyuth Kiwatananusont,
known for hosting an
annual feast for wild macaques.
Kitwatananusont said he could build
the stumptails a 12-acre open-air
sanctuary on land he owns in Lopburi
province, where a moat could
keep them isolated from wild kin.
Other Thai bodies including
the Thai Society for the Conservation
of Wild Animals oppose
repatriation. They argue that there is
no conservation need to bring more
stumptails into captivity, that
importing the Vilas Park Zoo colony
might jeopardize the wild population
because of their history of exposure
to contagious disease, and that they
might not thrive in the Thai climate.
Though descended from stumptails
captured in Thailand more than 30
years ago, most are generations
removed from year-round heat.
There is also opposition
from the Wisconsin Regional Primate
Center, whose executives
regard the Thai offers as tenuous.
“We will not send the stumptail
colony to any facility that does not
have appropriate housing and the
ability to properly care for this
species,” spokesperson Jordana
Lenon told Associated Press.
The Vilas Park Zoo rhesus
and stumptail colonies are descended
from some of those whose infants
were subjects of the often horrific
isolation experiments performed by
the late Harry Harlow, who relocated
to the University of Arizona in
1971 and died in 1981. They had
lived at the zoo since 1963, funded
by the National Institutes of Health,
under an arrangement of a type not
condoned under the American Zoo
Association code of ethics since
1986, but allowed to continue at
zoos where partnerships with
research institutions were already in
effect and secured by contract.
Agreeing to comply in
spirit with the AZA wish that zoo
animals not be treated as a source of
subjects for vivisection, University
of Wisconsin officials in 1989 and
1990 assured Vilas Zoo director
David Hall that the zoo colonies
would never again be used for invasive
experiments. In August 1997,
however, the International Primate
Protection League disclosed that 65
colony members were later killed for
invasive research, while 110 were
sold or traded to other institutions to
use as they wished.
As that scandal broke, the
NIH in October 1997 told the
University of Wisconsin that it
would no longer fund the macaques,
as they were not being used in
enough research to warrant the cost.
The university arranged
for the 143 rhesuses to be sent to the
Louisiana Regional Primate Center
at Tulane University. Scrambling
for an alternative, IPPL and the
Wisconsin Alliance for Animals proposed
that they be sent instead to
Wild Animal Orphanage, outside
San Antonio, Texas, near Primarily
Primates. Wild Animal Orphanage,
with Primarily Primates help, would
look after the rhesuses until a permanent
site could be created for them.
IPPL founder Shirley
that the offer was rejected after
PETA and Wildlife Rehabilitation
and Rescue, another San Antonioarea
sanctuary with old grudges
against both Wild Animal Orphanage
and Primarily Primates, opined
to media that the rhesuses would be
better off dead.

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