By Suzanne Potter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A primate breeding facility in Immokalee is being accused of serious mistreatment of monkeys in a complaint to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
The issues first came to light after a whistle-blower released video of alleged abuse to the news media. Carter Dillard is director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which filed the complaint last Thursday. He claims the company, Primate Products, instructed vet techs, instead of qualified veterinarians, to perform c-section abortions on monkeys so the fetuses could be sold for research.
"Nobody would think this is acceptable, to have a vet tech perform abdominal surgery on their pet, much less on a primate; the level of care and complexity is much greater with a primate," says Dillard.
Primate Products had no comment when contacted about the allegations.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection in late May noted a number of violations, including one instance in which employees dragged monkeys down from a chain link enclosure by their tails, which could have caused serious injuries. Others include two monkeys killed when a bear got into an enclosure, and three that died after playing with an electrical cord left near their cage.
Dillard says the Animal Legal Defense Fund also is suing Primate Products and Hendry County for holding meetings in secret.
"They have said they didn't think they were obligated to comply with public meetings law because the facilities should be zoned as agricultural," he says. "I think that's not an argument they should make with a straight face."
The state attorney general is also investigating this case. Audiofile.