Primates’ Deaths Prompt Group to Call on Federal Wildlife Agency To Take Action

PETA Asks U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Investigate Alexandria Zoo’s Role in Tragedy

For Immediate Release:
January 20, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Alexandria, La.

Today, PETA fired off a letter calling on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate the recent deaths of two endangered tamarins left out overnight at the Alexandria Zoo. As temperatures plummeted below 20 degrees, three sensitive primates were left to fend for themselves in temperatures far below what they would ever face in a natural environment, likely a violation of the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits—among other things—harming and killing protected animals.

“After a lifetime spent confined to an enclosure that denied them everything natural and important to them, two of the tamarins died an agonizing, preventable death,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA has called on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to hold the Alexandria Zoo fully accountable for its failure to protect these susceptible animals and to confiscate the remaining tamarin for her own protection if a violation of the Endangered Species Act is confirmed.”

With no freedom to choose food, mates, or territory, animals in captivity are housed in cages that don’t begin to compare to the jungles and forests that are their natural homes. Every aspect of their lives is controlled and manipulated, which can lead to physical and mental deterioration. It’s small wonder that PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.”

For more information, please visit


PETA’s letter to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service follows.


January 20, 2015


Luis J. Santiago, Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Region
Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Re:  Apparent Endangered Species Act Violations at Alexandria Zoological Park


Dear Agent Santiago:

I’m writing on behalf of my client, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to request that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service investigate the Alexandria Zoological Park, located at 3016 Masonic Dr., Alexandria, Louisiana, following the reported deaths of two endangered cotton‑headed tamarins (Sanguinus oedipus).[1]

According to the attached article (Ex. 1), on January 7, 2015, three of the protected primates were left outside overnight. That evening, the temperature fell below 20 degrees (see Weather Underground (Ex. 2)) and two of the primates died (see Ex. 1). By leaving three tamarins exposed to such cold temperatures, the Alexandria Zoological Park likely violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which prohibits harming or killing protected animals. 16 U.S.C. §§ 1532(19) (definition of “take”), 1538(a)(1)(B) (prohibition on “taking”); accord 50 C.F.R. § 17.21(c)(1). The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) mandates that accredited sanctuaries provide New World primates, including cotton-headed tamarins, with “access to heated … areas when outdoor temperature falls below 60°F (15.6°C), adjusted for wind chill” and explains that “most New World primates can tolerate temperatures [as low as] 50°F (10°C)” only “for short periods when supplemental bedding and heat is provided.” GFAS, Standards for New World Primates § H-8(b) (2013); see also National Research Council, Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals 44 (8th ed., 2011) (listing the temperature range for primates between 64 and 84 degrees).

Please ensure that the surviving tamarin is protected from any further harm, as is required by the ESA. If your investigation finds that the zoological park violated the ESA or the regulations, please assess the maximum penalty,[2] refer this case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution,[3] and seek forfeiture of the surviving tamarin.[4]

Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter. PETA stands ready to help in any way that it is able, including by helping to transfer the tamarin to a reputable sanctuary.

Very truly yours,

Brittany Peet, Esq.
Deputy Director, Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation


[1]Cotton-headed tamarins are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. 50 C.F.R. § 17.11(h).
216 U.S.C. § 1540(a).
3Id. § 1540(b).
4Id. §§ 1540(e)(3), (e)(4)(A), 3374-75.
[1]Cotton-headed tamarins are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. 50 C.F.R. § 17.11(h).
[2]16 U.S.C. § 1540(a).
[3]Id. § 1540(b).
[4]Id. §§ 1540(e)(3), (e)(4)(A), 3374-75.

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.