COULSTON IS ORDERED TO GIVE UP 300 CHIMPANZEES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1999:

WASHINGTON D.C.––USDA undersecretary for marketing
and regulatory programs Michael V. Dunn announced on
September 1 that the Coulston Foundation had agreed to settle 22
charges of violating the Animal Welfare Act by divesting itself of 300
chimpanzees during the next 28 months.
The AWA charges resulted from a USDA investigation into
the deaths of five chimps named Terrance, Muffin, Holly, Echo,
and Jello. Related charges filed in 1994 led to a 1996 consent agreement
under which Coulston paid a fine of $40,000.
“This is an unprecedented consent agreement and a big win
for these magnificent animals,” Dunn said. “By the first of the year,
Coulston will transfer 30 chimps. By January 1, 2001, they will
place 120 more. And, at the start of 2002, Coulston will divest itself
of an additional 150, for a total of 300. This agreement,” Dunn
claimed, “will help to ensure that all of the approximately 650 chimps
currently housed at the Coulston Foundation are provided quality care
well into the next century.”


Echoed In Defense of Animals founder and president Elliot
Katz, “This settlement is a major victory for chimpanzees, and a
clear vindication of IDA’s five-year investigation into Coulston operations.
IDA pledges to redouble our efforts to ensure that all of
Coulston’s chimpanzees are retired.”
According to an IDA press release, “Katz also announced
his organization’s call for an immediate moratorium on exposing any
more Coulston chimps to infectious agents such as HIV and hepatitis.
He noted that placing infected chimps in retirement sanctuaries is
extremely difficult. Katz further revealed IDA’s intention to press
intensively for government funding for permanent retirement of
Coulston’s chimps and for the hundreds of other chimps currently
being warehoused at labs throughout the U.S.”
Responded Last Chance for Animals executive director Eric
Mindel at the LCA >>www.CoulstonKillsChimps<< web site,
“Coulston is under no obligation to send any chimps to sanctuary.
The chimps can be moved to any other vivisection laboratory that
demonstrates an ability to meet AWA standards. As [Coulston
Foundation founder] Frederick Coulston has stated in the past, he
opposes the notion of retiring chimps, and he likely won’t send them
to a sanctuary if a laboratory is available.”

Escape clause
The eighth paragraph of the agreement states that, “The
specific obligation of the Respondent is to make these numbers of
chimpanzees available for transfers to other entities and to facilitate
transfers.” Other portions of the agreement enjoin Coulston from
acquiring any more chimpanzees “without the specific written
approval” of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Coulston is also not to breed more chimpanzees “without prior identification
of longterm funding sources to support the offspring.”
Thus Coulston seems obliged to downsize––maybe.
“It is understood,” the eighth paragraph continues, “that
transfers cannot occur without acceptable sites willing to take the
chimpanzees and able to provide appropriate care and housing. Any
physical transfers which do not occur as scheduled shall be carried
forward until they can be accomplished.”
Said Mindel, “It appears that Coulston will decide which
chimps to transfer. This could mean that the chimps who are most difficult
to handle or who require significant medical attention may be
the first ones offered. Because the transfer is contingent on finding
appropriate locations, this factor could cause a delay, if not eternal
avoidance, in placing the chimps.”
Mindel also noted the last phrase of paragraph eight: “The
number of chimpanzees to be transferred may be reduced by APHIS
based upon changes in research needs and funding.” This provision is
reinforced by paragraph 10, which states, “This consent Decision and
Order may be modified by a writing signed by all parties.”
Explained Mindel, “If Coulston demonstrates to APHIS
that he is using the chimps in research with established funding, it
appears in the agreement that he can keep them. Coulston himself
told media that it’s a way for him to keep all of the chimps.”
A $100,000 civil penalty assessed against Coulston could
also prove illusory. The ninth paragraph of the USDA consent order
stipulates that the amount “shall be held in abeyance provided that the
Respondent complies” with requirements to clean up, fix up, and
improve supervision and veterinary care, and “shall be reduced by the
amount of fees and expenses borne by Respondent and associated with
the establishment and visits of both the external review team and independent
compliance review officials.”

Contenders
At least four facilities may be in line to obtain some of the
Coulston chimps.
• Primarily Primates, of San Antonio, Texas, has already
taken 31 of the 141 chimps from the former NASA colony, who were
formerly looked after by Coulston, under contract, at Holloman Air
Force Base. Coulston was awarded title to the rest. Primarily
Primates, with 70 chimps on site, is so far the only chimp retirement
sanctuary to receive animals from Coulston, and the only one with a
long history of handling large numbers of ex-laboratory primates. As
the USDA consent order was announced, Primarily Primates sought
$400,000 to secure the purchase of a neighboring 65-acre ranchette,
which had been slated to become the site of an electrical substation.
When opposition to the substation surfaced, led by Primarily Primates
out of concern for the effects of ambient voltage on the 1,000-plus resident
animals, the power firm dropped a purchase option and
Primarily Primates stepped in. The land might enable Primarily
Primates to expand enough to take all the Coulston chimps––if funding
could be found to build adequate facilities and hire staff.
• Chimp Haven, headed by Linda Koebner, in June 1999
received 200 acres from Caddo Parish, Louisiana, and was reportedly
raising $5 million for construction plus $12 million for an endowment
to care for many as 100 chimps who may be retired by the Yerkes
Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta. Among the apparent
major backers are Zoo Atlanta and the National Chimpanzee
Retirement Task Force, formed by the Humane Society of the U.S.
and the National Anti-Vivisection Society.
• The Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care, in Boynton
Beach, Florida, headed by Carol Noon, is endorsed by Jane Goodall
and the Doris Day Animal League. It lost a bid on the NASA colony,
however, and is now suing over the outcome. The U.S. Air Force
panel that awarded the chimps apparently didn’t think the CCCC had
enough sanctuary experience on site and secure funding commitments.
ANIMAL PEOPLE understands the CCCC may not have secure zoning
and building permits, either, and is opposed by neighbors.
• Diagnon Corporation, of Rockville, Maryland, in April
1999 formed the Foundation for Comparative and Conservation
Biology, and according to the Washington Post, is starting a
“research facility near Frostburg,” Maryland, which is to be “a retirement
home for about 30 chimps who had been used for medical
research. Chimps retired from research facilities across the country
would live at the facility until their natural deaths,” explained recent
coverage. “Then autopsies would be conducted, and the results
would be shared with researchers.”

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