Monkey Escape! Feds Slap Suncoast Primate ‘Sanctuary’ With Critical Citations

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3 min read

Imagine if you were a monkey being held at Suncoast Primate “Sanctuary”—a decrepit, misleadingly named roadside zoo in Palm Harbor, Florida, once called the Chimp Farm—and a chance to run presented itself. You’d take it, wouldn’t you, hoping against all odds that something might pan out so that no speciesist human could keep exploiting you for entertainment? You might even get proper care as a result.

This very thing occurred recently, and fortunately, PETA alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that a capuchin monkey named Jack had remained on the loose for 24 hours after escaping from his enclosure at Suncoast. PETA knew he was in just as much danger in the woods as at the roadside zoo and wanted to ensure his safety. The feds flew into action after being notified, slapping the sleazy primate hellhole with multiple citations for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Capuchin monkey temporarily escapes dismal roadside zoo called Suncoast Primate
A capuchin monkey is held in an enclosure at Suncoast.

What Jack’s Temporary Escape from Suncoast Yielded

The violations resulted in two critical citations—one for the loose capuchin and a second for the facility’s lack of an attending veterinarian to properly care for the animals—as well as other citations for subjecting animals to “heavily soiled” feeding tubes; enclosures with rust, chipping paint, untethered fencing, and sharp edges of metallic piping; and dangerous “enrichment” items that were cracked and broken. It’s no wonder Jack took a chance at a bid for freedom.

Shoddy facilities like Suncoast exploit wild animals who deserve large, naturalistic settings among large family groups, not confinement to damaged enclosures that endanger their safety and deprive them of everything that’s natural and important to them.

Suncoast’s Sordid History

This latest escape attempt and series of citations are only the most recent incidents in Suncoast’s long and sordid history. The USDA had repeatedly fined the Chimp Farm before ultimately taking the extremely rare action of revoking its license in 1999—yet nine years later, the granddaughter of the original owners was inexplicably permitted to reopen the facility under its current name. In 2011, Suncoast was fined for violating the AWA after two chimpanzees escaped and one seriously injured a volunteer.

Capuchin monkeys are sensitive, social, intelligent animals. While Jack will never get to be truly wild, he and all the other primates at Suncoast deserve the next best thing—a home at a true sanctuary where they could receive the expert care and safety they desperately need, free from neglect and abhorrent conditions.

What You Can Do to Help Primates Permanently Escape From Suncoast

PETA asks that you steer clear of roadside zoos and urge Suncoast to release the animals to a real sanctuary intent on helping them rather than exploiting them.

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