Step Up or Step Aside: Judge Gives DA Deadline to Act on Behalf of Monkeys

Published by PETA.

A circuit court judge has set a deadline for the local district attorney in Madison, Wisconsin, to decide whether he will finally act to save a long-suffering monkey from continued cruelty that PETA exposed at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC).

A court has ruled that Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney, has until September 28 to say whether his office will act on PETA’s request to intervene on behalf of Cornelius, a 12-year-old rhesus macaque.

In May 2021, PETA asked Ozanne to step in on behalf of Cornelius, and in August 2021, we asked that he also intervene on behalf of an aged monkey named Princess. However, after nearly a year, Cornelius and Princess remained imprisoned at WNPRC and no charges had been filed. So PETA took the fight to the courts. We asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor and that a criminal complaint be issued against WNPRC. We argued that there is probable cause to believe that one or more WNPRC employees’ cruel treatment of Princess and Cornelius constituted a crime, as did their failure to provide adequate shelter to maintain the monkeys in good health. While Wisconsin’s anti-cruelty statutes exempt the use of animals in experimentation, Princess and Cornelius endured cruel conditions of confinement, not as part of a bona fide experiment but during times when they were simply part of WNPRC’s breeding colony, meaning that the mistreatment is covered by Wisconsin’s laws.

Now, Ozanne must tell the court, in writing, whether he will take action.

PETA has reason to believe that the treatment of Cornelius violates Wisconsin’s cruelty-to-animals laws, following our six-month 2020 undercover investigation into WNPRC, which revealed damning evidence that both Cornelius and Princess have been mistreated and exhibited symptoms of prolonged physical and psychological suffering.

The monkeys have spent their entire lives locked in small, barren laboratory cages, often in solitary confinement. During the investigation, Cornelius was routinely found hunched over or with his face pressed against cage bars. As one supervisor said, staff are “not supposed to say” that monkeys “look depressed” but admitted that they absolutely do. Princess had torn out much of her hair—a form of self-mutilation indicative of extreme psychological distress.

Sadly, only Cornelius can be saved now, as 18-year-old Princess has died during our fight to save her. In November 2021, Princess was impregnated and then infected with the Zika virus. In early December, she was killed and her fetus was removed from her body for analysis.

PETA seeks the prosecution of culpable WNPRC personnel for alleged crimes against animals and the release of Cornelius to a reputable sanctuary, where he can experience sun on his back, fresh air, and space to climb for the first time in his life.

What You Can Do

Please take a minute today to join nearly 90,000 PETA supporters who have already taken action to advocate for Cornelius’ freedom.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind