Primate Rescue Center

USDA Inspects Monkey Farm After PETA Video Shows Poor Conditions

Erika Fleury June 02, 2015

Federal officials inspected a Hendry County, FL monkey farm last week after a seven-minute undercover video showing alleged mistreatment of animals at Primate Products was passed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The monkeys were sometimes denied basic veterinary care, including for excruciatingly painful exposed bones, while other monkeys were left to die in cages or left out all winter long in near-freezing temperatures," said Dan Paden of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which coordinated an eight-month investigation

PETA's eyewitness video footage prompted the USDA to inspect the facility, Hendry's oldest and largest, last week.

The agency's report was provided exclusively to The News-Press by Primate Products president Jeff Rowell, who said inspectors made eight findings of noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act.

According to the report, video showed workers holding monkeys with rectal prolapses upside down and shaking "the primate while inserting a finger in the anus and pushing back the rectal mucosa. This appears to be performed with or without anesthesia, without lubrication or suturing of any kind," the report reads. "The standard of care for this procedure is to always provide anesthesia under veterinarian direction, clean the affected tissue, lubrication of the finger and anal area to reduce further trauma, pain, or injury, and suturing at the veterinarians discretion."

The report also says "Facility personnel are extracting teeth by holding a primate, prying open its mouth and pulling the tooth by hand or an instrument. This is not an appropriate method to extract teeth without following established veterinary medical procedures. Extracting teeth by the observed method may cause unnecessary pain and distress to the primate, and does not minimize potential infections."

In a "Handling of Animals" section, the report says that videos show personnel grabbing animals by their tails, chasing them around the enclosure, capturing more than one in nets and dragging them along the ground, all of which can injure the animals. Two words follow this section: "Correct immediately."

Under "Housing Facilities, General," the report cites sharp-pointed chain link fences that can hurt animals and a corrected problem ("before the inspection) that left a power cord where three animals were electrocuted after they chewed on the cord. That's already been fixed, according to the report

Under "Outdoor Housing Facilities", the report said animals had been housed outside in temperatures hovering in the mid 30s, and later required their tails amputated after frostbite. That was in November and December of last year. "Failure to provide supplemental heat can lead to health and medical conditions including cold stress, frostbite, hypothermia and death," the report reads, a conclusion followed by this requirement: "To be corrected by 7/31/15."

Also, after one earlier breach of the fences, a bear climbed into the animal area and killed two primates. Since then, the facility put in place electric fence, and no bear has been seen, the report said.

Under a section called "Environmental Enhancement to Promote Psychological Well-Being," the USDA report says records show that primates were "repeatedly traumatized (bites, tail/arm injuries) by their cage mate(s)." Others required amputation of digits or other body parts infected after injuries caused by other primates.

Furthermore, the report says, "Many of the primates that were observed on the inspection had varying degrees of alopecia (hair loss) which frequently is a result of stress overgrooming, or aggressive activity by others within the enclosure. Primates may not be housed with other primates unless they are compatible and are not known to be hazardous to the health and well-being of each other. Develop a formalized plan for animals that appear not to be compatible with each other which would include (but not limited to) at what point (frequency/severity) does an individual primate necessitate removal from its social group to protect its health and well-being."

The company, which has three weeks to appeal the findings, is taking corrective actions, Rowell said, and is looking forward to improving its animal welfare program.

- 10News

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