UPDATE: Last month, a lawsuit filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) on behalf of landowners in Hendry County, Florida—alleging that the county had violated the state’s open government law by secretly approving two massive facilities that import, warehouse, and breed monkeys and then sell them to laboratories—went to trial. Last Friday, the judge ruled against ALDF and the local residents, finding that the county had not violated the state’s open government laws. The judge explained, however, that this case was limited to a narrow procedural issue and did not address the treatment of the monkeys. The judge did not examine “the wisdom of Hendry County’s decision to permit nonhuman primate breeding facilities within county boundaries, nor about any potential health hazards, nor about any dangers posed by primates that might escape the facility.” ALDF has announced its intention to appeal the judge’s decision.
Originally posted June 24, 2016:
Hendry County, Florida—home to notorious primate facility Primate Products, Inc. (PPI)—has already faced an enormous public backlash for harboring cruel monkey dealers. Now, legal repercussions have been added into the mix. A lawsuit filed on behalf of local landowners alleges that the county violated state law by secretly approving two new primate facilities.
The new facilities intend to import and breed thousands of sensitive, intelligent macaque monkeys and sell them for use in experiments. Conditions within such warehouses are notoriously squalid—a 2015 PETA eyewitness exposé of PPI revealed that monkeys were confined to barren concrete pens containing days’ worth of accumulated waste and denied veterinary care for painful, obvious injuries, such as exposed vertebra. Some monkeys engaged in self-injurious behavior or attacked their cagemates in response to the unrelenting fear and stress.
These facilities are also potential public health risks. With monkeys confined to crowded, open-air cages surrounded by ditches and swamps, infectious diseases, such as the Zika virus, could easily spread. If an infected monkey were to escape—as 19 uninfected monkeys recently did at a similar primate facility in South Carolina—the danger to residents could be immense.
Florida’s open government statutes, called the Sunshine Law, establish citizens’ basic right of access to most meetings held by state and local governmental agencies or authorities. But despite the far-reaching and serious impact of allowing more monkey facilities into Hendry County, officials allegedly held no public hearings and gave no notice to local residents about the proposal.
The trial begins on June 27.
What You Can Do
A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors cited PPI for at least 25 animal-welfare violations, and the facility remains under federal investigation. Demand an end to the abuse of monkeys in Hendry County.