(Miami) – Miami-based World Wide Primates has been awarded a $1,840,000 contract to provide hundreds of monkeys to the National Institutes of Health in a “emergency acquisition” due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
World Wide Primates is a family business owned by Matt Block, a man with a history of serious crimes:
In federal court in January 2018, Matt Block pled guilty to one count of “False information and hoaxes.” Block admitted mailing envelopes containing suspicious white powder and a threatening letter to the home of a World Wide Primates employee and to his own mother’s house, and lying to federal law enforcement agents about his involvement in the bizarre scheme.
In 1993, Block was sentenced to 13 months in prison for smuggling endangered wildlife (baby orangutans).
“The National Institutes of Health should not be doing business with an individual like Matt Block who has a history of serious violations of federal criminal law,” said Nick Atwood, Campaigns Coordinator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF). “Providing monkeys for use in experimentation is a dirty business, and Block is one of the dirtiest.”
The use of monkeys and other animals in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine is not only cruel and expensive, but is unnecessary. Because of biological differences between species, animal experiments yield results that cannot be safely applied to humans. ARFF believes that the quickest way to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is through human clinical trials and tests using human tissues and cells (including blood samples from people who have recovered from COVID-19 infections).
Governor DeSantis’ stay-at-home order took effect today and lasts until the end of April. Here are some ways to help people and animals during this public health crisis.
Get the facts. Share information. There is no evidence that dogs or cats can get sick from COVID-19 or spread the virus to people. You can leave the house to exercise and care for your companion animals. The governor’s order specifically listed “taking care of pets” as an essential, permitted activity. Rely on the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for info and updates about the outbreak.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Make arrangements with a family member or friend who can care for your pets in case you are no longer able to. Make sure they know about any medications or special needs that the animal(s) may have.
Check-in on your neighbors, especially older adults and people with a disability, and offer to help by walking their dog, purchasing food or running errands. (Click here for a printable door hanger)
This is a challenging time for many charities. Animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and sanctuaries in Florida are still caring for animals. If you can, donate money or supplies (many organizations have a “wish list” of needed items on their website). Your local food bank or Meals on Wheels program would likely appreciate donations of pet food for families in need!
Foster or adopt a new dog or cat. Reach out to your local animal shelter or rescue and ask how you can help (services may be paused during the stay-at-home order).
Support your local vegan restaurant! Dining areas are closed, but many restaurants are offering take-out or delivery service. Or purchase a gift card online for use in the future.
Time on your hands? Get active! – The COVID-19 outbreak has forced the cancellation of many Shrine circuses around the country. Now would be a good time for Shriners International to make a commitment to replace cruel animal circuses with non-animal fundraisers. Contact Imperial Potentate Jeffrey Sowder and ask him to discourage Shrine temples from conducting circus fundraisers: firstname.lastname@example.org – Urge SeaWorld to release the dolphins and whales it holds captive to seaside sanctuaries. Click here to send a message. – Ask Canada Goose to go animal-free (the company is single-handedly propping-up the market for trapped coyotes). Sign the petition. – Air France is the only major passenger airline continuing to fly monkeys destined for a life of suffering in animal experiments. Ask them to stop (click here).