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

Monkeygate: Bewildered Florida Residents Discover Another Secret Monkey Breeding Facility

March 20, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

Just four months after filing a lawsuit against Hendry County, Florida, for approving a monkey breeding facility without soliciting public comment, local residents discovered that County officials secretly approved another monkey breeding facility.

On Tuesday morning, they are holding a press conference at the Hendry County courthouse to express their outrage about the illegal lack of transparency as well as their grave concerns about the public safety and animal cruelty issues associated with the secret facilities. They will also ask what other secrets County officials are hiding from tax-paying residents.

Bioculture's monkey breeding facility in Hendry County, FL.

Hendry County residents discovered a second monkey facility secretly approved by local officials.

Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnchained recently traveled from New York to Florida to speak to residents who say they are determined to prevent Hendry County from becoming the nation’s capital for the importation and breeding of lab monkeys.

The plaintiffs in the case against Hendry, who are being represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), claim that County officials not only violated Florida’s Sunshine Law, which requires the County to hold a public hearing on matters that affect the community, but also broke zoning laws by illegally approving a wild monkey operation on land zoned for agricultural use. When ALDF filed the lawsuit, residents were not yet aware that the County had, behind closed doors, approved a second monkey breeding facility.

Angry residents gather at Hendry County municipal building to protest secret monkey breeding facilities

Residents gather at Hendry County administrative building to protest secret monkey breeding facilities

The facility that is the subject of the ALDF lawsuit, Primera Science Center, is being built by PreLabs, an Illinois-based company which reportedly intends to import 3,200 macaque monkeys from Mauritius, an island off the east coast of Africa.

Primera Science Center, a monkey breeding facility under construction in Hendry County, FL.

Primera Science Center, a monkey breeding facility under construction in Hendry County, FL.

The newly-discovered facility has already been built and is owned by the Mauritius-based company Bioculture. Bioculture is leasing land from Primate Products, a company that breeds monkeys and manufactures equipment for use in monkey labs. Area residents, who are determined to shut down this facility, do not know if Bioculture has already imported monkeys, and the company’s Sales & Marketing Director refused to answer any questions when TheirTurn reached him by phone. But the residents’ efforts are not without precedent. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that Bioculture’s already-constucted monkey breeding facility in Puerto Rico could not be opened because it was illegally built on land that was zoned for other purposes.

Hendry County is the lab monkey breeding capital of the United States

Residents are waging a battle against Hendry County officials to prevent their community from becoming the nation’s monkey breeding capital

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), which has worked for years to prevent these facilities from being approved, believes that Air France, the only commercial airline that transports monkeys, will ship the animals from Mauritius for both PreLabs and Bioculture.

Actor James Cromwell protests against Air France

Actor James Cromwell participates in PETA protest against Air France at Los Angeles airport

Bioculture kidnaps and breeds macaques in Mauritius and sells them for lab experiments

Bioculture kidnaps and breeds macaques in Mauritius and sells them to monkey breeding facilities

Hendry County residents fear that the presence of thousands of exotic animals poses a safety hazard for the community. And their concerns are not unfounded. In early March, the CDC began conducting an investigation at the Tulane National Primate Research Center where monkeys died after being exposed to deadly bacteria that was mysteriously released from a separate, high security section of the lab.

Tulane National Primate Center (photo: Ellis Lucia)

Tulane National Primate Center (photo: Ellis Lucia)

According to Allison Young, an investigative reporter with USA Today, biosafety lapses have been reported all across the country, including at the Center for Disease Control, “They’ve had incidents involving Ebola, anthrax, and a very deadly strain of bird flu.”

Florida already has a population of hundreds of non-native wild macaque monkeys. Over the past 10 years, wildlife officials, who describe the animals as a “public health hazard,” have captured 700 of them. The majority of these monkeys tested positive for the herpes-B virus.

rhesus macacque monkey in Florida

Wild, non-native macaque monkey in Silver Springs, FL (photo: Graham McGeorge)

The ALDF’s lawsuit against Hendry County is ongoing. Area residents are now meeting to discuss how to handle the newly discovered Bioculture facility.

Your Turn

1. Local residents have organized a press conference on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Hendry County courthouse. Please spread the word so that local residents and advocates attend.

2. Please sign this form letter demanding that Air France stops transporting monkeys for lab experiments. And please boycott Air France until it does. All of the world’s other major commercial airlines refuse to transport monkeys to breeding facilities and laboratories.

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Allen Stewart says:

    It was not too long ago that American citizens were arguing along these same lines about treatment of persons of African descent. This is a sanctity of life issue, just as was the issue of slavery. Obviously some of us do not consider the life of non-human primates of any real relevance, just as some felt the life of African slaves were of little relevance, just as the life of Jews were deemed irrelevant by some Germans. Eventually our morality will mature, but for now a large segment of our society apparently can justify such horrendous abuses of these incredibly complex and sensitive animals. It is sad testimony.

  2. Paula Kaartinen says:

    These huge companies create drugs for profit that the FDA rubber stamps without even knowing if they’re safe. Animal testing is done but safety is still never ensured.
    It demeans humans to conduct cruel experiments that are almost always duplicates of previous experiments. If people were willing to lead healthier lifestyles, eat better, use natural medicines more often, there would be much less need for drugs, which only add to bad health through side effects.

    1. NJ cat lover says:

      Paula, you don’t know much about research protocols & FDA oversight if you really believe that FDA “rubberstamps” New Drug Applications. After the research is complete & compiled, it’s submitted to FDA, where a panel of outside experts reviews the application & recommends whether it should be approved. Then FDA reviews the recommendation & doesn’t approve everything that’s recommended for approval, and it rarely approves something that the outside experts recommend should be turned down.

      While it’s true that low-frequency side effects are not always detected during pre-approval testing on several thousand patients, the post-approval surveillance is intended to catch these rare events, and evaluate whether the risks are high enough to lead to withdrawal of approval. Since it can cost up to a BILLION dollars for a company to perform the research required for the FDA submission, companies take as few risks as possible, and do not intentionally submit unsafe products!

      1. Sofie Buyniski says:

        There will never be peace on earth if we do not value another’s life and suffering.
        any one who thinks drugs are developed out of the goodness of pharmaceutical company’s heart has a lot to leasn.
        We use more drugs than any other country and our mortality rate is one of the highest.
        WE EAT ANIMALS THAN GET SICK (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancers) then we take drugs that animals suffer to create, Then we take more drug, for the side effects of the drugs we were orinalally taking. Then we suffer tremendously from our illnesses and drugs. No one wins but the drug companies and the morticians.
        Forgetting our humanity and lining the pockets of drug companies makes us depressed and now we have the highest rate of depression of an counties, and the drug companies make a fortune on that!

  3. Thomasina Stevens says:

    Carl Lombardo, I don’t know if ANY animal testing is actually helpful or necessary especially with all the new lab testing capabilities using cells, 3 d printers. But regardless, I definitely take issue with the speciesist attitude. Monkeys and other non-human animals do not deserve to be kidnapped from their families in the wild, and transported to hell on earth to be tortured and then experience eventual death. Humans are NOT any more important than other animals and I would gladly die if necessary to stand by my beliefs. If bees or ants left the planet, the whole eco system would collapse. We humans have only caused massive death and destruction to this planet. Anyone who supports enslaving and torturing such an intelligent, and sentient being is whack!

    1. Laurella Desborough says:

      Well, are you going to step forward and volunteer for research on diseases, for testing of drugs, and such? That is what will be needed if we do not use primates. Scientists have already stated that computer modeling is simply NOT sufficient for resedarch answers on many physical concerns.

  4. Stop this suffering now

    1. al smith says:

      stop the suffering? yup that is what they are trying to do .. stop human suffering

  5. Elinor Hawke-Szady says:

    Petition signed. I’ve signed several petitions against Air France for this, and many, many, MANY petitions against using primates of any kind (and other animals) in labs. Why don’t we start using serial killers, pedophiles, and serial rapists instead???!!! Since when should they have any rights if they’re convicted of their crimes with irrefutable DNA evidence?

    1. Bobbie says:

      My understanding is that some prisons to allow inmates to “volunteer” for cosmetic testing and other things. There is NO need for animal testing in this day and age. It’s all about MONEY to the jerks who own these facilities.

      1. Carl Lombardo says:

        Cosmetic testing shouldn’t be done at all. But testing on monkeys close to our DNA is necessary until they allow testing on humans for conditions such as HIV and Alzheimers. Do you want to volunteer instead? It is false that their is an alternative in all cases. If you disagree, please educate me with REAL facts, not just repeating stories.

        1. Donny Moss says:

          Carl: If another species more powerful than us descended onto the earth, snatched us from our homes and families, locked us up in cages and conducted painful experiments on us for life, would that be okay because they want to keep themselves alive? Does might make right?

    2. Carl Lombardo says:

      My life partner and thousands like him are alive because of two drugs that were tested on monkeys prior to being approved. Don’t be so quick to believe the lies without doing your own real research into the subject. I have. And there are no real alternatives to primate testing in many cases, despite the lies you are being told.

      Please don’t be hypocritical. Think for yourself. Do you really think research costing millions of dollars is done this way just for the heck of it? Stop following the hype.

      1. al smith says:

        Carl So glad your partner were saved through animal research..but realize that this has nothing to do with that at all.. These are people do NOT care about you or your partner.. Jane whatever cares about money and fame they rest are sheeple.. I am going to take a guess and say that your partner is another male . Any google search will tell you that most of the huge advances in the cure of HIV has been through monkey trials..thank you researchers and thank you monkeys. It surprises me because jane Mitchell is a lesbian.. you would think she would know better.. but money comes first or is it her lack of compassion for her fellow humans or her quest for fame. all together very sad for her. May you and your life partner have many more happy years together..thanks to research that can now be true.

Leave a Reply

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