Friday, October 20, 2006

Horror Stories Revealed in Court

People who have been on the scene helping the animals at PPI this week described the grim and filthy environment in which the primates and other exotic animals have been kept.

Though Sarah has put on weight and Sheba has begun eating regularly, Emma and Harper, the 7 year olds, have been locked indoors in a small, rodent infested enclosure for over a month. Darrell remains isolated. They all need to be reunited and moved immediately.

According to a San Antonio Express report, the facility had only five full-time employees for 850 to 1,000 animals. There was no quarantine area, no veterinary clinic, and no daily logbook for employees to keep tabs on individual animals. Many of the animals, Mel Richardson a veterinarian from California said, had no records at all.

The stench at the facility is terrible. With no septic system, employees were said to be told to hose down animal waste, sending raw sewage into open pits just four feet from an enclosure housing a couple of chimpanzees.

Many of the doors to enclosed night houses don't function, Richardson testified, leaving animals that evolved in temperate climates subjected to extreme weather.

"A sanctuary provides comfort but there is no comfort for these animals," Richardson testified. As the judge was shown a photograph taken Thursday morning of a monkey, Richardson continued: "This is a macaque sitting on a concrete floor. She deserves comfort. She deserves a blanket. She hasn't been provided with the basics."

Many of the enclosures are too small for the animals. A mother tamarin has begun eating her young, probably due to stress, Richardson testified.

A group of macaws, or parrots, which until Wednesday apparently spent months confined to a dark enclosure, plucked every feather from their chests, Richardson said.

According to an emergency request filed by Robert L. Trimble of the attorney general's office, a female baboon named Maggie was confined to a small cage with a dominant and aggressive male who "will not allow her to leave the dark sleeping box attached to the cage."

"Maggie is clearly afraid of the male baboon. Because the cage is very small, when she is attacked, there is no place where Maggie can safely retreat or escape the male's aggressive assaults." She lived in her own excrement, Trimble said.

Attorney general's lawyers are combing through records in an attempt to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that Swett and another defendant, Stephen Rene Tello, are believed to have "misappropriated and misapplied ... for their personal use and other wasteful purposes," according to court records.


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