For Immediate Release:
November 9, 2016
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Tampa, Fla. – Recent reports issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that a wild monkey is on the loose in the Tampa Bay area, after apparently traveling up to 30 miles in just one week, should renew concerns over the public health risks posed by the massive monkey facilities in Hendry County.
There’s a long history of monkeys imprisoned in these decrepit facilities who have channeled their inner Shawshank Redemption and broken out. Just last year, monkeys escaped from The Mannheimer Foundation’s Haman Ranch, and during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, 1,500 monkeys and baboons escaped from the ranch. Also, in 2012, monkeys escaped from the notorious Primate Products, Inc. (PPI), where a PETA investigation revealed serious violations of federal regulations.
These escapes are particularly disturbing because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeys housed in primate facilities are often infected with the herpes B virus and don’t show any symptoms. But if humans contract the virus through animal bites or scratches, it can cause severe brain damage or death. During PETA’s investigation of PPI, many monkeys were known to carry herpes B. The current case of the monkey who has been spotted in the Tampa Bay area and the earlier case of Cornelius—a monkey who was on the loose for four years—demonstrate that these animals are intelligent, extremely resourceful, adept at acclimating to their environment, and capable of traversing long distances. If monkeys from PPI, Mannheimer, Bioculture, or Primera make a break for it, it wouldn’t just be the immediate neighborhoods that would be threatened. For the sake of these animals and public health, it’s long past time for the Hendry County monkey prisons to be shut down.