Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

Outraged Community Holds Elected Officials Accountable For Secret Monkey Breeding Facilities

April 29, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

A rural, economically-strapped county in Southwest Florida that is unknown even to many Floridians has become an unlikely national hotbed of civic activism, a transformation that must have local officials – with future elections to win – quaking in their boots.
Hendry County monkey breeding  capital

Hendry County is home to four facilities that breed monkeys for lab experiments

It all started in November, 2014 when the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the County for approving a monkey breeding facility without holding a legally-mandated public hearing. Upon hearing the news, several local residents began demanding answers to questions about the new facility and two older ones largely unknown to the public.
Hendry County Monkey Protest

Residents in and near Hendry County hold a press conference about the monkey breeding facilities

But it wasn’t until an activist released drone footage of a second new secret monkey breeding facility that anger against the county became a movement. “When the community saw the massive scale of this second facility, the monkey manure hit the fan,” said Jessica Thomas of Lehigh Acres. “How could our commissioners approve this controversial project without so much as consulting us?” Have they forgotten that they work for the people and not the wealthy corporations that make millions off the backs – and bodies – of monkeys?”
bioculture-hendry-hearing

After seeing drone footage, residents in and near Hendry County, Florida, demand answers from commissioners who approved a second new monkey breeding facility behind closed doors

Will Bronson, president of the Lehigh Acres Democratic Club, says that politics has been a low priority for many in Hendry County, where residents are just trying to make ends meet. The MonkeyGate scandal, however, has galvanized the community, according to Bronson, who feels that voters are going to hold these elected officials accountable at the polls: “People are not going to want to elect candidates who appear to be under influence of corporate interests. By keeping these monkey facilities under wraps with the hope that they’d never come to light, the Hendry County commissioners have betrayed the public trust, and they should suffer politically from it.”
Hendry County Commissioners -

Hendry Commissioners:  Janet Taylor, Darrell Harris, Karson Turner, Michael Swindle, Don Davis

While the secrecy and backroom deals between county officials and monkey breeders have enraged residents, it is the public health, property value, and animal cruelty issues that have driven residents into town hall — demanding that the County shut down the two facilities under construction and demanding answers:

  • What happens to the daily waste of thousands of monkeys? Do the facilities spray it on the land? Does it seep into the groundwater? Does it contain toxic substances or disease pathogens?
  • Do the monkeys carry diseases?
  • What happens if monkeys escape, breed and become an invasive species in the Everglades, which is already under attack by non-native species?
  • What types of abuses, apart from holding the primates captive, are being inflicted on these monkeys before they are shipped off to labs for experiments?

In a letter to the County Commissioners, a local fire commissioner, Linda Carter, asks what happens if a hurricane or tornado destroys the fenced enclosures that house thousands of monkeys: “If loose primates start looking for food and end up in the community residents’ yards, leaving droppings or biting a pet or small child, who would be liable for the medical recovery?”

Monkey escapes (photos: BBC, Conway police)

Monkey escapes in the U.K. and Arkansas (photos: BBC, Conway police)

Area residents don’t expect these secretive monkey corporations to answer their questions. They do, however, expect their elected officials to provide answers. And, based on their impassioned remarks at the county meetings, they intend to fight until they get them — and the resolution they seek.
Secret monkey breeding facilities are hidden behind gates at the end of long, private dirt roads dotted with trespassing signs

Hendry County’s monkey breeding facilities are hidden behind gates at the end of long, private dirt roads dotted with no trespassing signs

The commissioners, meanwhile, must be asking themselves questions of their own, such as how the growing MonkeyGate scandal will affect their own political aspriations and what they need to do to appease the voters in order to keep their jobs or advance their own careers.
Jessica Thomas of Lehigh Acres wears MonkeyGate t-shirt

Jessica Thomas of Lehigh Acres, Florida wears #MonkeyGate t-shirt

Your Turn

Please ask Hendry County’s five commissioners to stop the expansion of Primate Products pending county and/or state investigations: bocc1@hendryfla.net, bocc2@hendryfla.net, bocc3@hendryfla.net, bocc4@hendryfla.net, bocc5@hendryfla.net

Please share this “MonkeyGate” Facebook page with people you know in Central and South Florida: Put an End Hendry County Monkey Breeding Facilities.



Comments via Facebook

TheirTurn.net Comments

  1. Karen mcgee says:

    Too many politicians that do not have the publics best interest in mind. County is as bad as U.S. Govt
    I will donate time and help in any way I can

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *