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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?”

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:,,,,

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

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Monkey C-Section Abortions Performed by Non-Veterinarians

April 8, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

Primate Products, a monkey breeding company at the center of the MonkeyGate scandal in Hendry County, Florida, assigned invasive surgeries to vet techs instead of veterinarians – in violation of state law. David Roebuck, a former employee at the Florida company, told TheirTurn that vet techs performed C-section abortions on pregnant monkeys so that the company could sell the fetal organs and the mothers’ milk.

Primate Products lab monkeys

Primate Products lab monkeys

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “Veterinary technicians can assist in performing a wide variety of tasks, but they cannot diagnose, prescribe, perform surgery, or engage in any activity prohibited by a state’s veterinary practice act.”

Mr. Roebuck’s account of the surgeries has been corroborated by Wink News, a local TV station that obtained Primate Products’ “Standard Operating Procedure” manual. The manual provides instructions on how to cut open a pregnant monkey and extract the fetus — a tutorial that a licensed and trained veterinarian would not need. When asked by a local reporter, Primate Products president, Thomas Rowell, did not deny the charges. The company has not respond to TheirTurn’s inquiries.

Mr. Roebuck, who was employed by Primate Products in 2008, was tasked with vacuum packing the monkey fetus organs. He resigned after one week on the job when his supervisor told him the monkey surgeries were routine: “If you know what a deep freezer looks like, there were two of those, filled with parts.”

monkey restrainer for lab experiments

According to Primate Products, the restrainer provides “trouble-free accessibility”

A representative from the Florida Medical Veterinary Association said surgery is an “unlicensed activity” for a vet tech and that the supervising veterinarian would be accountable under state law.

According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, a non-veterinarian practicing veterinary medicine is subject to a $3,000 – $5,000 fine for each count. A veterinarian who knowingly employs unlicensed persons in the practice of veterinary medicine is subject to both monetary fines and probation or suspension.

Local residents have asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to launch an independent investigation. In addition, a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is being prepared.

Monkey breeding farm (photo: Alon Ron)

Monkey breeding farm (photo: Alon Ron)

Holly Cheever, a founding member of the Leadership Council of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, said “a well-trained and compassionate licensed veterinary technician is an invaluable part of a veterinary practice, providing superb skills and a gentle touch to his/her patients, but their skill set does not include the performance of either simple or advanced surgeries. They receive no training in surgical skills or techniques.”
Protest Against Primate Products

Smash HLS protests Primate Products

In addition to violating state veterinary laws, Primate Products breached zoning laws in Hendry County by performing surgery on land zoned for agricultural purposes. Charles Chapman, the County Administrator, said that the procedures brought to his attention are not agricultural. On March 27th, Hendry County launched an investigation.

Notice of investigation

Notice of investigation

Your Turn

Please ask Hendry County’s five commissioners to stop the expansion of Primate Products pending county and/or state investigations:,,,,


Primate Products’ monkey breeding & lab equipment manufacturing facility in Hendry County, Florida

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Florida Monkey Breeder Illegally Cut Fetuses out of Pregnant Monkeys and Sold Organs, Says Whistleblower

March 31, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

In a shocking new development in the MonkeyGate scandal in Hendry County, Florida, a former employee of Primate Products told WinkNews in an exclusive interview that vet technicians cut fetuses out of pregnant monkeys and sold the organs. His allegations dovetail with documents obtained by the TV station.

Macaque monkeys (photo: BUAV)

Macaque monkeys (photo: BUAV)

David Roebuck, who was a vet tech with Primate Products, said that he resigned from the company in disgust when he was asked to vacuum pack and freeze the livers, lungs, kidneys and brains of the aborted monkeys. Mr. Roebuck also said he was shocked to discover that the invasive surgeries were being performed by vet techs, not veterinarians.

David Roebuck resigned from Primate Products when he learned that fetuses were being cut out of pregnant monkies

David Roebuck resigned from Primate Products when he learned that fetuses were being cut out of pregnant monkies

Mr. Roebuck also said that vet techs killed the fetuses to prevent them from being born alive. Nursing infants, he explained, would reduce the supply of monkey milk that Primate Products has available to sell. On its website, Primate Products advertises “serum, plasma, and tissue samples from cynomolgus macaques and rhesus macaques.”

Primate Products is located on land zoned for “agricultural” use. Residents assert that conducting any procedure, much less invasive and lethal surgeries, constitutes a clear violation.

County officials have not yet announced what course of action they will take against Primate Products, but residents are demanding that the County halt the construction of several new buildings which would reportedly house between 5,000 – 14,000 additional monkeys. Hendry County residents only learned about this massive expansion when the organization Drones for Animal Defense released aerial footage. Residents are now conferring with lawyers to determine whether to seek an injunction or pursue other legal avenues to curb the expansion.

Drone footage of Monkey Breeding Facility under construction in Hendry County, FL

Drone footage of Monkey Breeding Facility under construction in Hendry County, FL

In November, 2014, three residents filed a lawsuit against Hendry County to halt construction of a different monkey breeding facility that county officials approved without holding a public hearing, which is required by Florida’s Sunshine Law. PreLabs, the Illinois-based company building the 43 acre Primera Science Center, is reportedly seeking to import 3,200 macaque monkeys from Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa.
Primera Science Center is one of two monkey breeding facilities approved behind closed doors by Hendry County officials

Primera Science Center is one of two monkey breeding facilities approved behind closed doors by Hendry County officials

Hendry residents are enraged about the secrecy of county officials, who they say have consistently represented the interests of the monkey breeders over the public. Primate Products has made “large contributions” to the county — incentives residents believe are substantial enough for county officials to approve monkey facilities behind closed doors and turn a blind eye to the illegal activities being conducted inside.
Resident of Hendry County are now attending public meetings to air their opposition to the new monkey breeding facilities

Resident of Hendry County attend public meetings to air their opposition to the new monkey breeding facilities

Your Turn

1. Ask Hendry County’s five commissioners to stop the construction of the Primate Product expansion:,,,,

2. Tweet #MonkeyGate with this article and your thoughts on importing more monkeys into Florida to be bred for lab experiments.

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