Cat fight at API Primate Sanctuary
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2004:
SACRAMENTO–The Animal Protection Institute took an online
beating from feral cat advocates, other sanctuary operators, and
supporters of former API Primate Sanctuary director Lou Griffin in
late April 2004 after an intern at the sanctuary in Dilley, Texas,
circulated an e-mail asking for help in sterilizing 60 to 80 feral
cats who dwell among the resident Japanese macaques.
Griffin and Aesop Project founder Linda Howard, a
Griffin-era volunteer, agreed that the sanctuary had 19 cats when
API fired Griffin in March 2002, and that all of those cats were
sterilized. API contends that some cats there then were not
sterilized, and that their offspring formed the present colony.
Griffin sued API after she was fired by former executive
director Alan Berger, who left API himself in April 2003 and now
heads the John Ancrum SPCA in South Carolina. The case is still in
An alternate hypothesis is that the cat population grew from
abandonees between Griffin’s exit, after 22 years, and the arrival
of current sanctuary director Nedim Buyukmihci, VMD, about 18
Current API executive director Michelle Thew hired Buyukmihci
to run the API sanctuary soon after her own hiring in mid-2003.
Raised on the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, founded by
his parents, Buyukmihci had just retired from the veterinary faculty
at the University of California at Davis, and from the presidency of
the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, which he
cofounded with Neill Wolfe, DVM, in 1981.
“We have made the cat issue a priority. As time and
resources permit, we are working diligently to resolve this through
sterilization and external marking and either re-homing the cats or
returning them to a non-monkey environment on the property. The
latter cats will be fed so that they will be assured of a minimum
level of nourishment,” Buyukmihci e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE.
The API Primate Sanctuary was formerly called the Texas Snow
Monkey Sanctuary and the South Texas Primate Observatory.
It was scarcely Thew’s only primate-related spring headache.
The spring 2004 edition of the API membership magazine urged readers
to protest “torture” at the Duke University Primate Center. The item
was illustrated with a photo of a monkey wearing a brain probe.
However, the Duke Univ-ersity Primate Center keeps only
lemur species native to Madagascar, does not do seriously invasive
research, and is primarily engaged in conserving captive populations
of highly endangered lemurs, mostly in outdoor semi-natural
enclosures. Founded in 1966, the most controversial project the
center has ever been involved in was the 1998 reintroduction of
several captive-bred lemurs to protected habitats in Madagascar. It
also became controversial in 1986 when three lemurs died from
exposure during an unusually severe winter, while 27 others suffered
either frostbite or burns from heat lamps.
The Duke Center for Neuroengineering does do invasive
research on monkeys, but is under totally different management.
A correction was posted to the API web site.