NIH-Funded Scam Facility Shut Down; 108 Monkeys Seized in Colombia

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3 min read

The fallout from a damning 18-month PETA investigation continues as the environmental agency Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC) and the Colombian Office of the Attorney General (OAG) recently completed the largest rescue operation in their history, seizing 108 monkeys in poor health from a decrepit facility bankrolled with US taxpayer money.

Six squirrel monkeys and 102 tiny owl monkeys had been forced to live amid their own waste in rusty cages. Inspectors—acting on our findings—found a dead baby monkey and a monkey missing an eye. They also uncovered the unexplained disappearances of 21 other monkeys.

Examinations of the survivors revealed even more cruelty. They’ve been found to be suffering from various serious medical conditions, including the following:

  • Skin necrosis and a fractured finger, requiring immediate surgery
  • Purulent discharge from one monkey’s only eye
  • Amputations
  • Old fractures
  • Skin lesions
  • Cracked and missing teeth
  • Lip lesions
  • Corneal lesions
  • Hair loss
  • Dermatitis and hyperkeratosis, the thickening of the skin’s outer layer
  • Multiple gastrointestinal parasites

The monkeys are now recovering at CVC’s wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, where they’re now free of parasites and enjoying a healthy diet while they adapt to their new surroundings.

Photo of two squirrel monkeys facing the viewer
These squirrel monkeys, who were also rescued from the Primate Center Foundation, are recovering at the CVC’s wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.


Photo of four squirrel monkeys perched on a branch and looking at the viewer
These owl monkeys rescued from the Primate Center Foundation are recovering at the CVC’s wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, where they’re finally receiving the professional care they urgently needed.

Sócrates Herrera Valencia and his wife, Myriam Arévalo Ramírez, the owners of the facility known as the Primate Center Foundation, recently requested that the CVC’s case against them be thrown out, a request that justifiably was swiftly denied.

Meanwhile, the Colombian OAG is investigating the couple for the apparently illegal experimentation and capture of monkeys as well as animal welfare crimes.

Ten universities and research institutions from as far away as Australia are distancing themselves from Herrera’s and Arévalo’s shady organizations or have launched their own investigations.

See which institutions have done the right thing here:


  • Burnett Institute, Australia
  • FIND, Switzerland
  • Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
  • Imbanaco Medical Center, Colombia
  • Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium
  • Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud, Panama
  • Institute Pasteur, France
  • Mittweida University of Applied Sciences, Germany
  • Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Papua New Guinea
  • Radboud University Medical Center, the Netherlands
  • Universidad del Valle, Colombia
  • Universidad ICESI, Colombia

You won’t find the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) on that list.

The agency has given the couple more than $17 million in taxpayer funds over the past 20 years, supposedly to develop a malaria vaccine, which has never been produced.

So far, NIH has been silent while Colombian authorities and politicians as well as institutions around the globe have responded swiftly to the malfeasance and cruelty unwittingly supported by US taxpayers that PETA uncovered.

In a  recent letter to NIH officials , we urged the agency to disassociate itself from this fiasco immediately. We also seek the cancellation of the current National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases contracts as well as the return of any money paid to this couple, and we’re asking for an investigation into credible claims of the lack of scientific integrity.

It’s well past time for NIH to catch up with the rest of the world, condemn these atrocities, and return the taxpayer money that financed them.

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