Primate Products, a company at the center of the MonkeyGate scandal in Hendry County, Florida, has consistently lied to and misled the public since the media began reporting on its activities, which critics describe as “illegal.” The company, which breeds monkeys for experiments and manufactures equipment for primate labs, maintained in a recent letter to the County that it has consistently obeyed the law, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Monkeys at Primate Products (source: News-Press)
As the public waits to see if and how the County disciplines Primate Products for violating zoning laws, TheirTurn is highlighting several ways in which the company has deceived the public:
The Surgeries – In March, a whistleblower reported that Primate Products cut fetuses out of pregnant monkeys in order to harvest and sell their organs. When confronted with this information, the County administrator said that procedures violate by zoning laws, and he sent a letter to the company asking that it disclose all of its activities. In its response letter, Primate Products not only claims that the c-section abortions are permitted under the agricultural zoning but also minimizes the invasive surgeries by referring to them as the “collection of fetal tissue.”
According to Primate Products, the restrainer it manufactures provides “trouble-free accessibility”
The whistleblower also reported that Primate Products illegally assigned the c-section abortions to vet techs instead of veterinarians. Vet techs are neither trained nor licensed to perform surgery. The company again dismissed the allegations, telling a reporter with the News Press that its business is exempt from the law.
The Expansion – In an effort to present Primate Products as an ethical company that prioritizes the interests of the monkeys, Primate Products stated in its letter to the County that it abides by the 3 “Rs” of research – reduction, refinement and replacement. However, the growth of Primate Products’ breeding business depends exclusively on increasing the number of monkeys used in labs. Furthermore, if Primate Products is determined to decrease the number of monkeys used in research, it would not be working to import thousands of additional monkeys for an expansion on its property.
A partially completed expansion of monkey breeding facilities on the land owned by Primate Products
The Monkeys – In its letter to Hendry County, Primate Products wrote that the company imported only captive-bred monkeys. When the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) uncovered USDA documents proving that the company imported wild caught monkeys, Primate Products was forced to admit to the lie.
In a recent interview with the News Press, the President of Primate Products, Jeff Rowell, justified monkey captivity by saying that the animals are safe from poachers. Yet poaching is precisely how Primate Products acquired many of its monkeys in the first place.
Animal rights activists in Florida protest Primate Products
Monkey breeding facilities and labs are among the world’s most unsafe places for monkeys
The only monkeys who are potentially safe in Florida are those who have escaped from Primate Products and other Hendry County-based monkey breeding facilities, though these escapes pose a public health risk to Florida’s human population and to the nearby Everglades where escaped monkeys can breed, become an invasive species and compromise the ecosystem. Primate Products says the last monkey escape took place three years ago.
Hundreds of non-native wild macaque monkeys with herpes B virus live in Florida (photo: Graham McGeorge/Barcroft Media)
The Tenant – Primate Products has leased land to Bioculture, which is also a monkey breeding company, even though it was expelled from Puerto Rico because its breeding facility there violated zoning laws. Can Primate Products really be trusted if it is leasing land to a company with this type of history?
Sign at Bioculture gate states that the company does “testing” and “research,” which violate zoning laws
Perhaps Primate Products feels secure in lying to and deceiving the public because the company believes that the County will protect it. After all, the company has, according to WinkNews, made “large contributions” to the county. According to residents, these donations were substantial enough for county officials to approve a massive “expansion” of Primate Products without informing the public, as required by Florida’s Sunshine Law. But now that the story has become a scandal that people around the world are following, can the County continue to turn a blind eye to the illegal activities that have been conducted inside?