Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chimps are Finally Getting Proper Care


While it is probably true that the 3 caretakers who were employed by PPI prior to the Attorney General’s intervention “loved” the animals, they had less than 18 months combined experience caring for primates. The consulting veterinarian that was hired by PPI in June 2006, had not worked with primates for over 25 years. And while Wally Swett and Stephen Tello did have experience, their ideological commitments prevented them from acknowledging changing standards for how to appropriately care for chimpanzees.

For example, Sarah (above) is an enculturated chimpanzee who has been engaged with people in cognitive tasks for over 40 years. She was the first chimp to be taught a symbolic language. (Washoe was taught sign language just before Sarah, and then she and Lana, who lives in Atlanta, were taught symbolic languages). Sarah was the chimpanzee who led psychologists to ask the question “Do chimpanzees have a theory of mind?” Sarah’s intelligence has been the most comprehensively studied of all chimpanzees in cognitive research. Whether you approve of how Sarah has spent her life or not, the fact is that Sarah is highly dependent on regular human stimulation and enrichment. Sarah was denied this at PPI while Swett and then Tello were in charge – she had no transition period, had nothing to occupy her mind, and was literally being bored to death.

Now she has comfortable nesting material, books and magazines to look through, and she and all the chimps are getting proper care. In addition to Stephany and Klaree who have a combined 11 years experience caring for the former OSU primates, and Mel Richardson, D.V.M, with over 20 years of experience in the veterinary care of exotic animals, including chimpanzees and other primates, primate experts from around the country have flown to Texas to assist and others have been consulted to ensure that all the primates at PPI get the care they deserve.

Since the AG took over, every day all the primates at PPI are getting fresh produce, clean beddings, and forage. The neighbors who live closest to the facility are reporting that it is quieter than its ever been.

But, even though there are now experienced chimpanzee caregivers tending to the former OSU chimps and the other 65 chimps at PPI, it will still be in the best interest of all the chimpanzees to be moved to genuine sanctuaries. At true sanctuaries the facilities are safe for human and non-human primates alike; the highest standards of sanitation and animal management are followed; and trained caretakers, primate veterinarians, and experts on chimpanzee behavior are permanently available to oversee the chimps’ physical and psychological well-being in environments that are better suited for their life-long care.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone give me an update as to what Dr. Boysen's role is in this whole thing? Has she been to Texas, has she been allowed to visit the chimps and monkeys?

Also it seems like PPI's whole response tho this is paraphrases as thus: "PETA wants to euthanise the animals, that solution is worse that what we did!" My understanding is that PETA isn't involved in the Stephanie/Klaree lawsuit at all. Does anyone else have any other information?

-Ben Bayliss

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Cameron said...

Thank you so much for the updates. We have been praying for these chimps since we heard that they were in the van on their way to Texas. We've sent numerous emails to Earle Holland and others at OSU, yet none of them have been returned.
I saw on the www.savetxchimps.org that you have a request for items, but I wasn't sure if they would be blocked after the PPI response to the blankets. Are those items still being accepted?

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To my knowledge items on the wish list at www.helptxchimps.org are still being accepted. Check out www.helptxchimps.org!!!

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chimp Haven Facts

I decided to do some fact checking before making up my mind about the Chimp Haven/PPI/OSU/FOA debate. I visited Chimp Haven, read their website and tried to get the financial information from them that most non profits are happy to provide to their donors. This is what I found:

Of the 200 acres Chimp Haven boosts about, less than 10 acres make up the two forested habitats. Only 38 chimps, including the new baby, live in these small pine forests. Simple math tells me that at least 50 chimps are living in cages and fenced in play yards viewing life through bars every day.

There is no human contact with the chimps (other than visual), allowed at Chimp Haven unless an animal is injured and needs medical attention. I find this disturbing in many ways. Most lab chimps receive some type of human enrichment every day; the OSU chimps were raised with full physical contact with humans. To take this type of attention away from them must do emotional and mental harm. Especially babies like, Harper and Emma. I can’t imagine how an animal care taker must feel seeing them reaching out for the simplest touch and knowing they could loose their jobs if they show some compassion. I find it a strange policy for a sanctuary.

All seven of the OSU chimps live in a completely enclosed cage approximately 100 x 100. Past OSU animal care staff may visit but can not touch the chimps they know so well. The OSU controversy is interesting as well. OSU claims that they asked Linda Brent, president and dictator of Chimp Haven to accept the nine chimpanzees in early 2006. She said no, blaming the NIH. Two of the OSU chimps have died since. Now Brent wants us to believe that Chimp Haven “rescued” the OSU chimps from PPI. The truth can be found on PETA’s website. PETA offered to pay all expenses and lifetime care to Chimp Haven if they would accept the seven remaining chimps. This money exchange “rescue” puts Chimp Haven in violation of their NIH grant, space that was bought and paid for by the NIH for lab chimps was given to the OSU chimps.

Further thanks to Brent, whose only work experience is with an animal laboratory, Chimp Haven finds itself involved in no less than three lawsuits!

1. Chimp Haven donors lawsuit - alleging very serious mismanagement leading to multiple animal deaths and financial mismanagement. Tax payers dollars, PETA dollars, private donations, the facility is still incomplete and they need loans??
2. PPI/PETA custody lawsuit – was it legal to accept funds from PETA to remove animals that were not owned by PETA? Was it legal to remove them at all?
3. Former employee lawsuit – and there are lots of former employees for this facility that has been housing chimps for less than two years.
There may be even more lawsuits, these are the few I discovered very easily through the local paper. The Shreveport, Louisiana Times has reported on Chimp Haven many times in the past.

From personal observation, the animal care staff at Chimp Haven is doing a good job. When I asked (on several occasions, in person, telephone and email), how much money was spent on administration versus direct animal care I received vague answers. No real numbers or percentages that most non profits will publish for donors. Why the secrecy? So I checked out Chimp Haven’s tax records and found that the top level employees are making high five and low six figure salaries. I was shocked – this is a non profit isn’t it?

My conclusion, check out everything before making decisions on who you support. It’s simple, takes little time and it’s important. Ask questions, visit the facility, a simple Google search can produce tons of information. Weigh the good and the bad. As for me, my money will go to the REAL sanctuaries.

Good luck to all of the chimps in the world. I hope someday people will realize that you belong in the wild and should not be used for medical or entertainment reasons. Until then God Bless You.

11:48 AM  
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