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Urgent Update From Texas

Written by PETA | April 26, 2007

420-chimpanzees.jpgYou probably remember the Primarily Primates, Inc. (PPI) case we have been working on for a year or so. If not, PPI is the pseudo-sanctuary in Texas where, late in 2005, staff members called PETA to report that animals were suffering horribly and dying and that the facility’s director, Wally Swett, was drunk a lot of the time. PPI staff members reported that Swett did the following things:

  • Refused to provide veterinary care to animals who desperately needed it
  • Shot animals because “bullets are cheaper” than euthanasia
  • Denied primates any psychological enrichment
  • Threw out donated enrichment treats
  • Ignored staff members when they pleaded for animals to be given proper shelter
  • Purchased birds and a baby chimpanzee for tens of thousands of dollars
  • Locked chimpanzees in isolation for no reason
  • Took baby chimpanzees away from their mothers in order to hand-rear them in his house, neglecting them so badly that some died
  • Told staff members to use high-pressure water hoses to control chimpanzees, because the poor design of the facility does not enable anyone to safely enter the enclosures

To make a long story short, on the heels of a lawsuit fueled by PETA, the Texas Attorney General filed its own lawsuit against PPI and the Court appointed a well-known specialist with more than 20 years of primate and rehabilitation experience to bring the place up to some level of decency. She did that, and then some, and things were getting better—animals have received veterinary care, proper feed, clean water, and the comfort of bedding and nesting boxes that was all denied to them previously.

But just today, the Texas Attorney General has entered into a settlement agreement whereby all charges against PPI are to be dismissed, and he will wash his hands of the obligations of caring for all the animals and turn the pseudo-sanctuary back over to a board of directors that includes Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral, who backed the old regime including its director, Wally Swett, who drunkenly threatened volunteers with a firearm most recently and, in the past, has failed to provide even emergency veterinary care for dying animals.

The court-appointed Receiver (the current administrator of PPI), Lee Theisen-Watt, her attorney, Skip Trimble, and longtime staff member and whistleblowers on site are expressing their outrage. In the settlement, the Attorney General pledges to use his offices to attempt to retrieve the seven surviving former OSU chimpanzees who are now doing well in their rehabilitation at Chimp Haven in Louisiana, a move that will be hard fought. Their return would violate a Texas state and local law prohibiting dangerous animals at a site like PPI, so let’s all hope that doesn’t happen.

Here is PETA President Ingrid Newkirk’s statement on this disaster:

“PETA is pleased to have helped gather and organize the evidence that led to a search and seizure warrant being served at PPI in October, 2006. Although it was too late to save animals who had died of outright neglect, some lingering in pain for long periods of time, as a result of that entry into what had been a closed premises, relief was delivered to hundreds of chimpanzees and other animals who had been neglected. Since then, animals have received veterinary care, proper feed, clean water, and the comfort of bedding and nesting boxes that was all denied to them under Wally Swett and Stephen Tellos, and with the protection of Friends of Animals. The Texas Attorney General has now settled the case, much to the distress of those who have come to know and love the animals they have cared for during this interim period, and to the concern of all those who know what Friends of Animals sanctioned and how it stood by and didn’t take action that could have saved animals from suffering. Nevertheless, we live in hope that lessons have been learned and that the facility will no longer be mismanaged and be the place of despair for animals it once was.”

Please take just a few moments to contact these people to politely state your concern:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:
Phone: 512 475-4665
Fax: 512-322-0578
Governor Rick

Citizen’s Opinion Hotline: 800 252 9600Main Switchboard: 512-463-2000Fax: 512-463-1849

And just to give you a first-person perspective on this mess, I’ll leave you with a letter written by Chance French who has worked with these amazing animals over the past few months. At the end is a list of animals who will suffer because of the Attorney General’s action:

November 1, 2006 7:30 a.m.

This was the first time Christina and I ever stepped foot on PPI’s property. Let me tell you it was one of the hardest days in our lives. The abuse and neglect we were shown for the next eleven hours was horrific. The only thing that kept us going was the thought that we were going to be able to make a difference in all of these amazing, forgiving lives. And the next day we begun! Day after day, hour after hour WE MADE A DIFFERENCE! To give a friend (chimp, for those of you who haven’t ever heard me speak of them) a blanket when it’s cold or uncomfortable on the concrete at night, a toy to play with when bored, a three course meal of produce three times a day when all they’ve ever had was monkey chow (a damn’ dog biscuit), enrichment filled with treats because they deserve it or just those fifteen minute talks throughout the day with them, those times when they look at you and you see in their eyes the joy and happiness it brings each and every one of them. We all were hopeful it would never end. Well it’s happened, the attorney general has dropped the case against PPI because the receivership has brought the sanctuary back to the standards it should be at. The truth is the attorney generals office dropped the ball by misfiling and other problems. So to save face and not look stupid they’re running! Let me tell you if I could save this place by dancing naked only in a cowboy hat in front of the Alamo in this great state of Texas……………..IN A HEARTBEAT! The sad truth is that it will end up back to what it was. And who suffers?


Please, for all the animals above, take the time to contact the officials listed above. Thanks guys.

Commenting is closed.
  • Laura says:

    Friends of Animals my rear! For the the animals of primarily primates they are nothing but the Foes of Animals.They don’t deserve to get a “fair perspective”. Anyone who would stand behind the former administration and support the way the sanctuary was ran doesn’t deserve the luxury of being heard or the benefit of the doubt! I was there! I saw the months and maybe years of neglect and suffering first hand. Don’t be fooled by the name. As an animal lover who volunteered at Primarily Primates in December of 06 I can assure Friends of Animals will NEVER be friends of mine!!!!

  • Fred says:

    Ok so I don’t generally agree with your PETA’s politics philosophies and general out look on most subjects in this arena but this needed looking into. If what you are publishing is accurate then I say WELL DONE FOLKS. Those poor creatures are indeed in need of support and this guy needs a taste of his own.

  • Monika (former KSYM DJ) says:

    I used to work at KSYM Radio at San Antonio Texas. Because of my World Music Show I was really involved with the community in many different aspects including Voice for Animals and many others. I knew Stephen and Wally personally. I am really shocked as what has been going on. I supported Primarily Primates at one time and considered taking my 2 young daughters there to show them “how nice people rescue animals…” As for Attorney General Rick Perry I have no comments other than one question “Why?” I pray for the animals at Primarily Primates as well as their wellbeing and safety. As for Wally “You’ve been given another chance to redeem yourself please do the right thing by doing just that!! At one time you really loved doing this!!! Saving animals and you took great care in helping them!!! If you can no longer handle the work or just don’t want to then hand them over and give the animals the chance to get the care and love they deserve!!! The stories of your refuge in PETA were absolutely heartbreaking.. Now’s your chance!!! Do the right thing!!!!!!!!

  • sally says:

    I have just written to Governor Perry and certainly hope everyone else does the same. Our voices must be heard. I did mention to him the words of Ghandi “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” When I write to politicans relating to animals rights and abuse they sufferI always mention the aboveI hope one day they realize that these words are so important and so true. PETA THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK AND FOR CONTINUING TO SHOW US THE INJUSTICES DONE TO ANIMALS OF ALL KINDS AND I WILL CONTINUE FIGHTING WITH YOU TO HELP THEM. Sally Omar

  • Brandon says:

    This whole case is just odd. To be fair here’s Friends of Animals perspective httpwww.friendsofanimals.orgnews2007aprilsettlementforprima.html httpwww.friendsofanimals.orgprogramsprimarilyprimatesprimprivideo.htm

  • Rugantino says:

    Handrearing animals is always dangerous because it’s a high risk that they could die specially for monkeys! Originating from tropical countries like Africa India etc. they need the close contact with their mothers because of temperature eating touching. Many animal mothers give a special massage to the stomach of their children. We don’t understand anything from this and so the animal baby could die or even if it groes up the risk of diseases like tuberculosis specially for monkeys is very high. Tropical animals also the famous hanuman makaks from India need infrared and ultraviolet lamps. It is not just heartless and stupid to let them starve on concrete but it’s really murderous. In nontropical countries they need a warm ground and blankets and of course a loving contact with humans so they would not need highpressure water for to enter the enclosures. These poor animals should go back to Africa may be Jane Goodall could take them!!!

  • Elaina DelVino says:

    It is truly tragic that these beautiful animals are back in the hands of such an abuser. One can only hope that Mr.Swett finds himself drowning in a conscience instead of a bottle. Shame on the Attorney Gen who chooses to stick his head in the sand hopefully he buries himself under all that guilt.

  • Chance French says:

    Thank you for letting the people know what’s going on here and for all the help we have received from you. What a stab in the back by the Attorney General. If only animals could vote! Chance French

  • Lord of the Apes says:

    I ask myself why this Mr. Wally Swett wants to keep so many chimps and other animals as obviously as an alcoholdependent person he is not even able to look for himself. It has absolutely do be avoided that he or his ‘friends’ can put their hands again on these poor animals!