A national movement is needed to establish standards and regulations to stop the nightmare endured by primates in so called "sanctuaries".
This group has evolved from a recent case of horrid conditions in a Texas primate sanctuary, where years of inadequate care of it's residence and upkeep resulted in the Attorney General stepping in and placing the facility in receivership. The case was dropped by the AG and the facility was returned a "re-structured" board of directors. This to me, is insane. Most, if not all these "board members", were aware of the problems in the sanctuary long before the state placed in receivership. Why would you place the animals back in the care of such people?
I do hope that guilt propels these people to continue where Ms Theisen-Watt left off- improving the lives of it's residence and improving the standards of sanctuary.
I challenge the USA to take a stand and help start a movement to try and ensure that the remainder of these beings life's are spent in sanctuaries that are well monitored. We owe it to them. The State of Texas, this country, the world is not doing a very good job of treating these Primates with any respect or dignity.
We need to know what goes on behind the gates. Someone in your family is alive today, because of them. The conversations need to begin today!
Take Action Sign the Petition!
Blog: Chimpanzee Enculturation
by John F.
(0 comments | 0 discussions) — This was sent to my Myspace site. It's from my friend Kermit. It talks about PPI - Primarily Primates Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. I am proud to say I worked at the sanctuary, during the receivership. I was there from ... more »
Blog: Oliver once thought to be the
by John F.
(0 comments | 0 discussions) — Oliver was once thought to be the "missing link". See how he lived at Primarily Primates before the Texas Attorney General stepped in 10/13/2006 and where he lives today thanks to the reieivership. I had the pleasure of meetings ... more »
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for apes?
BY JONATHAN BALCOMBE PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE It's a civil rights case with a twist. In late April, an Austrian judge denied personhood status and legal guardianship for 26-year-old Matthias Pan, who was kidnapped as an infant in Sierra Leone after his mother was shot. Brought to Austria illegally, Pan was sold to a research laboratory where he lived alone in a cage and was experimented on for many years before finally being released to a sanctuary.
In her concluding statement, the judge explained that she never doubted that Pan should be considered a person, but she did not want to set a precedent that might weaken the case of humans with legal guardians. Pan's legal team will appeal the decision.
Matthias Pan is, of course, not human. He is a chimpanzee.
Although many of us might share the judge's view that chimps should qualify for personhood, current legal systems in the United States, Austria and most other countries do not. As a biologist and animal behavior expert, I believe it is time for the U.S. legal system to address this serious ethical issue.
Like all nonhuman animals, chimps qualify as nothing more than property. It is perfectly legal to chain a chimp to a stake or put her in a 5-cubic-foot cage and inject her with hepatitis or HIV.
That it's legal doesn't make it ethical. The sort of thinking that established this injustice is that we're smarter than them. But is "bright-makes-right" any basis for a sound moral system?
Despite popular assumptions, we are not always smarter. In a test of spatial memory, the numbers one to nine flash in a randomly scattered array across a computer screen for just one second before being replaced by white squares. A human observer is unlikely to recall the locations of more than two numbers in sequence. A chimpanzee will almost always successfully point to the former locations of all nine digits in the correct sequence. The dynamics of chimp society require keen awareness of where other group members are, which probably accounts for their exceptional skill on such tests.
Chimpanzees were thought to have poor face recognition until someone had the bright idea of testing them on chimp faces instead of humans. They recognize chimp faces at least as well as we recognize human faces.
Discoveries like this expose the prejudices that regard chimps as mere shadows of humans. But does it even matter how smart they are? After all, we don't deny basic rights and privileges to people of lower intellect.
Surely what matters is what an individual feels. It is apparent that chimps experience life essentially as we do. They are highly aware, and chimp expert Frans de Waal asserts that they are as socially sophisticated as humans.
They imitate, nurture, deceive, sympathize and plan. They have a broad emotional range spanning from jubilation to grief. Their cultures include different forms of tool manufacture and use, self-medication and bartering.
So should they be granted rights? Governments are beginning to say "yes." In 1999, New Zealand banned the use of great apes in harmful experiments. And this year, the Balearic Parliament of Spain approved a resolution to grant legal rights to great apes.
Meanwhile, Matthias Pan awaits his fate, as do 1,300 chimpanzees languishing in U.S. laboratories and an unknown number in squalid carnivals and roadside zoos. The day that they are free will be a great one for all apes -- and a step forward for humanity.
Jonathan Balcombe is an ethologist and senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. www.pcrm.org
By STEVE MITCHELL UPI Senior Medical Correspondent
WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- An animal rights group says a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report vastly underestimates the number of animals in research facilities, and the organization is pushing for the passage of new legislation that could ultimately make drug discovery more expensive for industry.
The USDA, which is charged with overseeing humane treatment of animals in research facilities, said in a report posted on its Web site that there are more than 1 million primates, dogs, cats and other species in research facilities. A separate report shows there were more than 20,000 violations last year of the law requiring proper care and treatment of animals in research facilities.
The animal rights group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, says the USDA reports do not include animals used for breeding and conditioning and also may underreport animals subjected to painful or distressing experiments without the benefit of anesthesia or pain-relieving medications.
"The USDA doesn't want the public to know the extent of violations or even the extent of animals in research facilities," Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, told United Press International.
The reason research facilities may underreport the number of animals subjected to painful experiments without pain relief is that they would then have to disclose the nature of the study and explain why they withheld anesthesia, Budkie said.
These types of experiments in primates can include bolting a device to their skull, restraining them to a chair for several hours and withholding food and water for extended periods of time, he said.
Failing to properly care for animals could make animal research unreliable, which could ultimately lead to human experiments or medications that are less safe than they seem, Budkie charged.
"If you're performing research on animals that are highly stressed are unhealthy, it would have to make research less dependable," he said. "The research probably wouldn't generalize to members of the same species let alone give you information that could be useful in human medicine."
Budkie said biotech and pharmaceutical companies should want to ensure the humane treatment of lab animals to improve the quality of the information they get from preclinical studies. "But they generally want to look the other way because it would result in higher costs," he said.
Budkie charged that by leaving out the animals used for breeding and conditioning, the USDA report does not include half of the animals at some facilities. As an example, he said the USDA report lists approximately 57,000 primates in U.S. labs but the real total is closer to 110,000-120,000.
The undercounting happens on the state level, too, Budkie maintained, citing South Carolina; the USDA reports experiments on 440 primates in the entire state. But Yemassee, S.C.-based Labs of Virginia alone has nearly 5,400 primates, he said.
"The same kind of thing happens in at least 14 states," Budkie said.
The USDA and industry denied the allegations.
USDA spokesman Jim Rogers told UPI the agency's report includes what is required by law, so there is nothing untoward about the results of its tally.
In addition, Rogers said, the problems cited in one of the reports are not violations but something the agency calls noncompliance issues. The report, however, is entitled "Violation Summary" and includes a "violation count" column.
"Those aren't violations," Rogers said. "When we do an inspection, we write everything down that is outside of regulations. If they fix them, they're not a problem. If they don't, we go to court ... and then it could become a violation."
But a noncompliance issue generally won't result in a violation. "It's not an easy thing to get a violation," he said.
Frankie Trull, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a group supported by industry, told UPI the USDA count may actually give an inflated tally of the number of animals in research labs.
"The number USDA uses is actually an overestimate of the number of animals because animals that may be in long-term studies may get counted multiple number of times," Trull said.
In addition, she said many infractions are for minor issues, such as peeling paint, that may have no bearing on the well-being of the animals.
"I think it's the broad consensus of both the USDA and the research community the inspection enforcement program is really working remarkably well," Trull said.
She added that aside from SAEN, she has not heard other animal rights groups complaining about this issue. "So I think it's a little bit of a non-story," she said.
Budkie said steeper fines would help curtail the violations of animal welfare laws. His group and the Humane Society of the United States are supporting a congressional bill called the Animal Protection Accountability Improvement Act that was introduced in the House last month. The largest current fine is $2,500, but the new legislation would increase that to $10,000 and each animal would be considered an additional fine.
Trull said her group has not yet taken a position on the legislation but that it could hinder biomedical research with severe penalties that may not be warranted in some cases.
For example, she said, a single infraction for peeling paint in a room with 12 animals in it could result in a fine of $120,000 under the new legislation. "I don't think that makes any sense," she said.
Voice your support TODAY for non-animal tests due June 7!!!
Please Voice Your Support for Non-Animal Tests
~Comments Due June 7th!!~
In addition to co-founding a coalition of animal protection organizations whose sole purpose is to foster the use of alternatives to animal testing, NEAVS has been monitoring what is happening at the government policy level that furthers or hinders our goals to replace animal testing with non-animal alternatives.
The United States agency overseeing the development of non-animal test methods, the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) has approved only one non-animal test method originating in the U.S. A shameful record when ICCVAM’s European counter, ECVAM, has approved dozens.
Rather than being a vehicle to support development and adoption of animal-free testing, ICVAM has done little in comparison to what can and should be done. As a result, animals continue to needlessly die and human health suffers as animal tests continue to lead to less accurate and less sensitive information regarding human health.
Please let ICCVAM know that you support their immediate acceptance of internationally validated non-animal tests.
Please send respectful comments no later than June 7 to:
or submit them via the Web. (Your comments will be available on their website and negative comments will work against us.)
Theodora Capaldo, EdD President & Executive Director www.neavs.org www.releasechimps.org