Primate Products, a laboratory animal supplier in Immokalee, has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in an attempt to prevent the release of health certificates and other records its claims contain “trade secrets.” Curiously, in the lawsuit Primate Products claims that it first learned the department was keeping copies of the certificates in December 2014. That was the month that ARFF released our latest summary of Primate Products customers, which we compiled from records received from the Department of Agriculture in response to a public records request. It is curious because ARFF released similar summaries in 2013, 2012 and 2011. (ARFF is not mentioned in the lawsuit.)
We hope that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will vigorously defend itself against Primate Products’ lawsuit, and defend the public’s right of access to governmental records.
In June 2013, laboratory animal supplier Primate Products closed its monkey quarantine facility in Doral. The building stood empty until recently. We don’t know if Primate Products has reopened the facility permanently or if it’s only temporary.
On August 6 an inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited the facility and measured high heat and humidity in a room holding 120 long-tailed macaques. Unlike animals in the wild, these monkeys confined inside metal cages are not able to regulate their body temperature by finding shade or water. Temperature extremes can cause significant stress and discomfort. As in humans, monkeys can suffer and die from heat stroke.
The USDA inspector took four measurements over a period of four hours. The heat index, what the temperature feels like to the body when humidity is combined with the air temperature, was between 94 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
Protection from temperature extremes is a basic requirement of the Animal Welfare Act. Primate Products was cited for the violation and ordered to correct the problem.
This week a young chimpanzee named Arden celebrated her 5th birthday at the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana. Click here to watch a beautiful video about Arden.
Arden spent her first few years behind bars at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC), which was the largest chimpanzee lab in the world. In June 2013, the National Institutes of Health announced that almost all of the government-owned chimpanzees at NIRC and other laboratories would be retired to sanctuaries (in the announcement, the NIH director stated, “new scientific methods and technologies have rendered their use in research largely unnecessary”). Arden and her mother were among the first chimps from NIRC to arrive at Chimp Haven in 2013.
It is wonderful to watch Arden climb trees, run on grass and play with friends at Chimp Haven. But if it was up to the President of Primate Products, Arden would have spent her life in a laboratory.
Thomas J. Rowell is President of Primate Products, an Immokalee-based company that imports and sells monkeys for use in research and testing. Before taking the position at Primate Products, Rowell served as NIRC’s Director for 15 years. In that role, Rowell was a leading proponent of the continued use of chimpanzees in biomedical research.
Thankfully, Arden is now safe from laboratory experiments!
We’ve written about Primate Products many times on this blog. Search “Primate Products” above to learn more about this company’s controversial history.
Between June 2012 and April 2013, Primate Products shipped 1,000 monkeys to contract research organizations, universities and government labs.
In the most recent* batch of State of Florida records that ARFF reviewed, it’s clear that business has changed for the company. Compared to the previous 11 months, Primate Products had fewer customers and shipped far fewer animals. Click here to download a summary of the shipments.
The biggest Primate Products customer (making up 30% of its total business) was the National Institutes of Health. Between September 2012 and April 2013, Primate Products trucked over 300 monkeys to the NIH Animal Center in Dickerson, Maryland. At the Center, the monkeys will be held for breeding or sent on to an NIH institute where they will suffer and die in experiments. (photo: rhesus monkeys at the NIH Animal Center)
The records also revealed a few new Primate Products customers, including Columbia University and Princeton University– two laboratories with histories of animal abuse and neglect (see here and here).
As ARFF reported previously, Primate Products has closed its Miami quarantine facility and is now operating solely out of its Immokalee location. How are they doing? On July 9, a USDA inspector found problems with food storage (insects and rodent droppings in food containers) at the facility.
*ARFF released similar sets of records in June 2012 and in November 2011. The summaries are based on health certificates filed by Primate Products with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and may not include all shipments that took place.
On Thursday, WFTX-TV/FOX 4 (Cape Coral) reported on the announcement by United Airlines that it would no longer transport monkeys destined for laboratory experimentation. When contacted by the TV station for comment, the president of Primate Products, Donald Bradford, said, “another airline turning its back to the fight against diseases and the suffering they cause means animals utilized in that fight will endure days and days on trucks instead of a two to three hour trip on airplanes.”
We’re not sure if Mr. Bradford was being intentionally misleading, or if he badly needs a geography refresher (and of course, we disagree with his claim that animal experiments are necessary in the fight against disease)? Primate Products is a Miami-based corporation that imports monkeys from countries such as China, Cambodia and the Phillipines for use in research and testing. Obviously you can’t truck monkeys from China to the U.S., and the trip by air from those countries takes much, much longer than two or three hours. The grueling, long-distance trips can be extremely stressful experiences. It is not uncommon for monkeys to die even before they make it to a laboratory.
We suspect that Bradford is aware of the true significance of United Airlines announcement. There are a dwindling number of airlines that continue to be involved in the cruel primate trade. Without airlines, Primate Products’ import business grinds to a halt.
Air France is one of a small number of passenger airlines willing to transport monkeys destined for research. You can help by contacting Air France and urging them to end their involvement in the transport of monkeys to laboratories.
Jan Krems, Vice President, The Americas
Air France-KLM Cargo
Phone: (877) 247-9247
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