Why bother to explain a dead monkey in a sanctuary water tank?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2002:
SACRAMENTO– Why doesn’t Animal Protection Institute
executive director Alan Berger answer questions from ANIMAL PEOPLE
any more about conditions at the Texas Snow Monkey Sanctuary in
Dilley, Texas, annexed by API in January 2000?
ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton asked Berger that
question in person at the August 2002 Conference on Homeless Animal
Management and Policy in Reno, Nevada.
“Why bother?” Berger responded.
ANIMAL PEOPLE forwarded to Berger nine photographs of reasons
to bother on July 25, 2002, along with a copy of a July 15 cruelty
complaint against API filed by San Antonio attorney Juan Gonzalez on
behalf of Lou Griffin, the snow monkey sanctuary director for more
than 22 years.
Berger, 55, fired Griffin, 54, on March 5, 2002. The
notice of dismissal did not state any cause. Neither did Berger and
API board president Gary Pike acknowledge any cause in response to
ANIMAL PEOPLE inquiries, as recounted in the April 2002 edition.
On July 26, 2002, Griffin via Gonzalez sued API, API
southwestern representative Donald Barnes, and current sanctuary
manager Tom Quinn for libel and slander in connection with their
statements, mostly to others, about the alleged reasons for the
Meanwhile, there were the nine photos, which were entered
as evidence in support of the cruelty complaint.
“As you might imagine, we receive photographs of alleged
neglect and abuse at animal shelters and sanctuaries almost every
day, and have quite a lot of practice at recognizing the ambiguities
inherent in them,” Clifton e-mailed to Berger while transmitting the
photos. “Sick and injured animals, dirty cages, and so forth are
inevitable at animal care facilities, and the real test of
management is not whether they occur, but rather, how promptly and
effectively the problems are rectified.
“With that caveat, it does appear to me that the photographs
in the accompanying portfolio showing the dead monkey in the water
tank are among the most unambiguous photographic evidence of
negligent management at a sanctuary that I have seen in quite some
time, and I am wondering how you explain it.
“Why was the monkey able to get near the tank, which
presumably is a drinking water source for the animals? Why was his
absence not missed? Why was he not found until he was so long dead
that rigor mortis had apparently come and gone? How seriously
contaminated was the water?
“I am wondering how you explain the other photos, too,”
Clifton said, “but those of the monkey in the tank are particularly
San Antonio animal advocate Linda Howard, who was married at
the sanctuary two years ago with Griffin as her maid of honor, told
ANIMAL PEOPLE that the dead monkey in the water tank had probably
been able to hide from sanctuary staff in nearby woods.
Berger, however, said nothing.
Weekly reports from Griffin alleged on August 3, August 12,
August 21, and August 29 that her successors were continually
allowing monkeys to escape and roam free, partly because they were
allegedly unable to individually identify them.
“There were more than 40 primates outside of enclosures
before the flooding in July,” which hit the Texas Snow Monkey
Sanctuary as well as other sanctuaries near San Antonio, Griffin
wrote in her August 29 report. “Now there are many more,” she
continued, and they are scattered geographically.”
Listing three ranches where she said monkeys have been
reported at large, Griffin pointed out that the Texas hunting season
is imminent, and that “It is legal for any hunter with a license to
shoot any monkey who is not confined. All of the ranches that
surround the sanctuary are leased for hunting,” Griffin said.
Griffin herself had trouble with monkeys escaping and being
menaced by hunters at a previous site, where the sanctuary was known
as the South Texas Primate Observatory. For five years following the
relocation, however, that problem seemed to be history.