OHSU continues to buy monkeys from infamous Florida company


The Oregon Health & Science University (Portland, OR) has again purchased monkeys from Worldwide Primates, a Miami-based laboratory animal supplier with a horrible history.

In response to a public records request, ARFF has received copies of paperwork filed by Worldwide Primates with the Oregon Department of Agriculture detailing a shipment of 12 baboons and four crab-eating macaques from Florida to Oregon.

A similar shipment of 27 monkeys in September 2015 was the subject of an article by InvestigateWest (the article also highlighted Oregon’s public records exemption for information about animal research at OHSU).

Miami-based Worldwide Primates is one of the country’s largest importers of monkeys for use in experimentation. The company is run by Matt Block, who was sent to prison in the 1990s after being convicted of smuggling endangered wildlife (baby orangutans) in the infamous “Bangkok Six” case.

You Can Help
Ask OHSU to reconsider doing business with Worldwide Primates. Contact:


Oregon Health & Science University
Online comment form (bottom of page)

The State of Florida has put a dollar value on our wildlife


In 1967 the American alligator received federal protection as an endangered species, after decades of commercial hunting decimated alligator populations. 50 years later, alligator numbers have recovered, but the hunting of alligators for profit is going strong once again.

The 2016 Florida alligator hunt began this week. Processors were waiting at the docks for hunter’s boats to return, ready to purchase the skin and flesh of dead alligators. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages the trade by providing hunters with a list of alligator meat processors and hide dealers (photo: dead alligators awaiting “processing”).

It is illegal for hunters in Florida to sell the meat, skin or feathers of game animals. The alligator is the only exception.

There should not be a “price per foot” for Florida’s wildlife. It’s time to end the commercialization of our wildlife.

Garden family circuses: A troubled history


This week the Garden Bros. Circus began three weeks of shows in Florida. The circus is traveling with elephants and camels. Garden Bros. is a new circus, founded in 2015 by Niles Garden. The Garden family has a history of criminal charges, animal cruelty citations, lawsuits and customer complaints dating back three decades. Download ARFF’s fact sheet, “Garden family circuses: A troubled history.”

A now defunct circus managed by Niles Garden, the Sterling & Reid Bros. Circus, had a sordid record. In 2002, a handler with the circus was arrested in Virginia for beating an elephant bloody during a performance. In 2001, a bear fell out of a circus truck onto a highway in Louisiana and wasn’t discovered missing until 1/2 hour later. In 2001, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, “The [U.S. Department of Agriculture] has issued more than 30 pages of violations to Sterling & Reid since 1999. And it fined the circus $3,250….”

You Can Help
Join protests against the Garden Bros. Circus in Cocoa (July 6-7) Punta Gorda (July 13) and West Palm Beach (July 23). Additional protests to be scheduled.

Serious problems with animal care at sea lion show


An animal act called Sea Lion Splash is a frequent performer at county fairs in Florida. During a May 17 inspection at a fair in South Carolina, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found numerous serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA):

  • Five sea lions were confined in a pool that did not meet the AWA’s minimum size requirements. The traveling exhibit also failed to provide the animals with adequate protection from direct sun.
  • Three of the five sea lions were found to be suffering from serious, painful eye conditions. The USDA inspector noted that water in the sea lion’s pool was not being tested, and chlorine levels and lack of salinity in the pool was contributing to the eye problems. According to the inspection report, “The attending veterinarian has prescribed all of the sea lions have easy access to salt water. This is not being done.” The USDA inspector also noted that medical records show that one of the sea lions had similar eye problems in June 2015, indicating “recurrent, chronic eye problems which are not being adequately addressed and treated properly.”
  • The USDA inspector called into question the qualifications of the two trainers. The inspector reported that the head trainer “does not appear to have adequate training and knowledge to be the primary caretaker for these animals;” also, “The caretaker does not have a copy of the USDA regulations and has not read them.”

The following fairs featured Sea Lion Splash in early 2016. Please contact the fairs and ask them to reconsider including Sea Lion Splash in future fairs.

Daniel West, Manager
Manatee County Fair
Email: dwest@manateecountyfair.com

Jay Spicer, Manager
Martin County Fair Association
Email: fairoffice@martincountyfair.com

Rory Martin, President
Sarasota Agricultural Fair
Email: info@sarasotafair.com

Steven Shechtman, President
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
Online comment form.

Thank you.

A day in the life of a bear in the circus

When a USDA inspector stopped by the Aleppo Shriners Circus in Wilmington, Massachusetts on April 22, she found that the main source of food for two adult brown bears was “a large amount of bread.” The bears, owned by Florida-based Rosaire’s Bears, perform a depressing circus act muzzled and chained (see below photo).

The inspector noted that bread does not meet the nutritional requirements of adult brown bears. To correct the violation, the bear’s owner made a quick trip to the grocery store. The inspector wrote in her report, “The licensee corrected this item at the time of inspection by going to store and bringing back a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

It is common for animals in traveling circuses to suffer from poor nutrition. The food that bears, tigers and other animals receive is often based on economic rather than nutritional requirements.



Primate Products wants to keep its dirty business secret

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.

Cora the elephant outlives her owner

For many years, ARFF has called for the retirement of Cora, an Asian elephant owned by Bill Morris of Gibsonton, Florida. ARFF believes that Cora is over 60 years old. She may be the oldest elephant still traveling and performing in the country. The below photo is of Cora at this year’s Collier County Fair in Naples. The fair ended on Sunday, March 27. According to reports, Bill Morris died on Sunday. It is not known what his death will mean for Cora.



Encouraging real estate news

Two Shrine temples in Florida that have sponsored annual circuses for many, many years are responding to declining membership and revenues by putting their properties up for sale. Orlando’s Bahia Shriners and the Amara Shriners of Palm Beach Gardens have both listed their building and property for sale.

Amara Shriners

The Bahia Shriners have come to the conclusion that their building is too big. A resolution adopted in November explained, “The membership has declined over the years and the dues cannot support the operations of the building.” The potential sale of the Amara Shriners’ large grass lot next to their temple building is especially encouraging, since the lot was used each year by the circus to set up its big top. ARFF is hopeful that the temple will not host a circus in 2016.

The fraternal organization needs to improve its image and attract new members. Getting rid of cruel animal circuses would be a good step toward turning around a struggling organization.

Anti-circus ads on taxi cabs hit the streets of Miami

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2016

(Miami) – Activists with the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) will work to educate the public about the cruelty of the circus on opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Miami. A large turnout is expected. To coincide with ARFF’s protests, advertisements on 20 local taxi cabs will draw attention to Ringling’s cruel training of baby elephants.

WHAT: Circus protest
WHEN: Friday, January 8, beginning at 6:00pm
WHERE: American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

In March 2015, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it would retire its elephants from circus performances by 2018. ARFF is calling for Ringling to immediately retire its elephants and to eliminate ALL animal acts.

“Ringling Bros. has recognized that the public is turning away from cruel animal acts,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Unfortunately, Ringling Bros. is delaying taking elephants off the road until 2018 and will continue to transport elephants, tigers and other wild animals thousands of miles chained in boxcars and stuffed inside transport cages, and to force animals to perform unnatural tricks on demand.”

Ringling Bros. has a long history of poor animal care. In 2011, Ringling Bros. paid a $270,000 fine to the USDA to settle allegations that it violated animal welfare laws in its handling of elephants, tigers and other animals. The fine was the largest ever against a circus! The alleged violations include elephants forced to perform when they were sick.

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Profile of a Florida sanctuary provides insight into operations of a notorious tiger breeder

This week The Florida Times-Union profiled the St. Augustine Wild Reserve, a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary. Its founder Deborah Warrick spoke to the paper about two male ligers, who arrived at the sanctuary from The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.). “They were no longer needed for the shows, so they gave them to us,” Warrick said.

T.I.G.E.R.S., which produces exploitive animal shows at Jungle Island in Miami, is known for its irresponsible breeding of animals such as white tigers and “ligers” (tiger/lion hybrids). In 2014 they made a big deal about the birth of a litter of ligers. Sadly, it appears that once the animals got too large to be used in money-making shows and photo-ops, they were discarded.

Warrick also mentioned the health problems that many hybrid big cats suffer from: “You can see when they walk that they have bad hips. It’s just not a good thing to do, to produce a hybrid like this.”