(Silver Springs, FL) — A new study of the potential dangers of wild monkeys living in Silver Springs State Park, and the resulting media coverage, was unnecessarily alarmist and overstated the dangers of herpes B virus transmission from monkeys to humans. That is the conclusion of a veterinarian with decades of experience working with primates, after reviewing the study.
“I do not agree that the Silver Springs rhesus macaques pose a serious threat to human health and safety,” said Nedim Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis, in a statement. “There was no need to alarm the public about the rhesus macaque situation and calls to eradicate the monkeys are misguided and irresponsible in my view.”
In his statement, Dr. Buyukmihci suggests that any effort to trap and remove the monkeys in the park may make the problem worse: “the stress of being hunted is likely to be counterproductive in that monkeys with latent infections may become infectious due to stress.”
(download Dr. Buyukmihci’s statement here)
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is calling on the Florida Park Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to halt any plans to use lethal methods to reduce the monkey population in Silver Springs State Park.
“The new study is an important reminder that the monkeys who live along the Silver River are wild animals, and like all wild animals, can be dangerous. But the study does not make the case for lethal control of the monkeys in Silver Springs State Park,” said Nick Atwood, ARFF Campaigns Coordinator. “The best way to protect the public from potential harm is to improve public education about the need to avoid interactions with monkeys in the park, and to strictly enforce rules against feeding or harassing monkeys.”
In October 2013, after two years of campaigning, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida celebrated when the Florida Park Service announced that it would no longer allow a trapper to remove wild monkeys from Silver Springs State Park for sale to laboratories. (Between 1998-2012, approx. 800 monkeys were trapped and removed.) At the time, the Florida Park Service said that it would explore alternative methods of reducing the monkey population at the park.
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On Sunday, November 19 a large crowd gathered outside the roadside zoo Monkey Jungle in Miami to demand a better life for the animals there.
For 28 years, “King” the gorilla has lived a cruel, solitary existence at Monkey Jungle. “Mei,” the only orangutan at Monkey Jungle, is confined to a barren, concrete enclosure when on exhibit (her off-exhibit cage is even worse). In a story that made headlines in early November, four former employees revealed that monkeys and birds at Monkey Jungle are also suffering from neglect and abuse. Photos taken by a former employee show filthy living conditions for the animals at Monkey Jungle (click here and here to read the Miami Herald’s reporting about the former employees allegations).
It is clear that Monkey Jungle is unable to provide the care that animals deserve.
In 1997, a campaign was launched to persuade Monkey Jungle to send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could be with other gorillas. Zoo Atlanta has had success in rehabilitating previously solitary gorillas and transitioning them into a gorilla family. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from noted primatologist Jane Goodall, TV personality Bob Barker, and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle has refused. Gorillas and other apes are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives. Gorillas are best-off when they are in social situations. King needs companions and this continued solitary confinement is cruel and psychologically damaging. Read our previous post about King here.
You Can Help
You can help by asking Monkey Jungle to transfer King and Mei, at the very least, to a reputable sanctuary or zoo where they could receive proper care and live out the remainder of their lives with companionship and dignity. Write to:
Sharon DuMond, President
14805 Southwest 216th Street
Miami, FL 33170
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking for an immediate investigation of Monkey Jungle. ARFF believes that the conditions depicted in the photos violates federal Animal Welfare Act regulations. Please contact the USDA and ask that they investigate Monkey Jungle and ensure that it provides animals with adequate veterinary care, and that the animals there are housed in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. Urge the USDA to hold Monkey Jungle fully accountable for any violations discovered during its investigation.
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(Daytona Beach) — An eye-catching mobile billboard in Daytona Beach will urge Shriners to replace animal circuses with alternative fundraisers.
The billboard, sponsored by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), features an image of a circus elephant in chains and boldly declares “Animals don’t belong in the circus” and “Shriners, please end your support of cruel circuses.”
The billboard truck will circulate in Daytona Beach on Tuesday, July 11 from 11:00am until 7:00pm, the start of the Shriners parade along A1A.
The Imperial Session, the annual convention of Shriners International, will be held in Daytona Beach from July 9-13. More than 100 Shriners International temples (chapters) in the U.S. will sponsor circuses in 2017. Shrine temples partner with circuses that have poor records of animal abuse and neglect.
“There is growing awareness and concern about the treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Unfortunately, the Shrine Circus is resisting change and continues to support cruel circuses.”
Shriners have been associated with circuses for a long time, but change is possible. Several Shrine temples have replaced long-running circuses with equally profitable alternatives, such as golf tournaments, car shows, festivals, or animal-free circuses.
A photo of the mobile billboard is available upon request.
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(Kissimmee) — The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has released disturbing video taken during the Bahia Shrine Circus at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee on Saturday, May 6.
In the video— available here: https://youtu.be/QNBthmtroZg— circus workers violently jab a tiger with sticks after the animal refuses to perform.
“This weekend, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold its final performance,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Ringling Bros. recognized that the public is turning away from cruel animal acts. Unfortunately, Shrine Circuses are resisting change and continue to transport tigers thousands of miles stuffed inside transport cages, and to force these magnificent animals to perform unnatural tricks on demand.”
Violent, physical abuse remains a common method of training and controlling animals in the circus.
ARFF activists protested outside all of the Shrine Circus performances in Kissimmee, May 6-7.
Orlando’s Bahia Shriners hired the Royal Hanneford Circus to be their 2017 “Shrine Circus.” The Royal Hanneford Circus has a long and sordid record of poor animal care and dangerous animal rampages. In November 2016, the circus agreed to pay a $7,000 fine to settle a federal complaint related to two incidents that put both animals and the public at risk.
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For Immediate Release: April 19, 2017
(Tallahassee, FL) — In today’s Tallahassee Democrat, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is running an advertisement urging Governor Rick Scott to appoint a nature photographer, a birdwatcher, or an individual with a background in wildlife conservation, to fill the next vacancy on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Today’s ad also ran in Sunday and Monday’s papers, and will run on Thursday as well, the final day of an FWC meeting in the town of Havana, north of Tallahassee.
View the ad here: www.download.arff.org/FWC-advertisement.pdf
The ad features an image of a black bear under the headline, “Florida’s wildlife belongs to all Floridians”. At this week’s meeting, the FWC will once again discuss bear management. In 2015, the FWC approved a black bear hunt despite strong public opposition. It was the first bear hunting season in Florida in 21 years.
“It is time that the FWC has a Commissioner who represents nature photographers, birders, hikers and other ‘non-consumptive’ users of Florida’s fish and wildlife,” said Don Anthony, ARFF’s Communications Director. “Most residents of Florida are not hunters, yet the FWC has long been dominated by individuals with a hunting background.”
Nature photography, along with birdwatching, hiking, canoeing and kayaking are the fastest-growing outdoor activities in America. According to the FWC’s own numbers, “wildlife viewing” has a much greater economic impact in Florida than hunting. The appointment of a photographer, birder, or wildlife advocate would add an important perspective to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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On hundreds of occasions over many years, Philip Lloyd and his company BioChemed Services exported blood products of monkeys* and other animals to biotech companies around the world, but fraudulently labeled the packages as containing human blood to avoid the attention of government inspectors. His actions made him a lot of money, but in the words of prosecutors, posed “a significant public health threat” and “risked the safety of the world’s supply of human blood” (monkeys can carry viruses and diseases that can be transmitted to humans).
In November 2016, Lloyd pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to mislabel wildlife products intended for foreign commerce.” Last week, in U.S. district court in Virginia, he was sentenced to 4 months in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Prior to sentencing, the judge received a letter seeking leniency for Lloyd from Michael Disbrow, who described Lloyd as a friend. Disbrow is senior director of “Nonhuman Primate Operations” for PreLabs, a company that operates a monkey quarantine/research facility in Hendry County. Disbrow and Lloyd are also partners in a Florida corporation called Flava Partners, LLC.
It is shocking that an executive of a research organization in Florida apparently has no qualms about being business partners with an individual who so flagrantly broke laws designed to protect human health.
*BioChemed has purchased blood from Florida’s Primate Products and other corporations that import and breed monkeys for use in research and testing
When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took its elephants off the road in May 2016, animal advocates cheered. Other Florida-based circuses saw the move as a marketing opportunity.
The Garden Bros. Circus advertised its 2016 tour as, “Last chance to see elephants live!” Apparently, the gimmick worked because they are using the tagline again this year.
On ticket coupons, Circus Pages teases, “May be the last chance to see performing elephants!”
Another Florida circus, the Stardust Circus, is using a similar line this year in its advertisements, “Come see one of the last performing circus elephants.”
We don’t believe any of these circuses will stop elephant acts, unless they have to. The end of elephants in the circus will come about due to the passage of local ordinances and state laws restricting the use of wild animals in the circus, and because the public– increasingly aware of the suffering of animals in traveling circuses– refuses to purchase tickets to circuses featuring animal acts.
In May 2016, the Hernando County Commission approved a strong anti-tethering ordinance that prohibits the unsupervised, unattended outdoor chaining of dogs. Last week the ordinance helped to save the lives of several dogs. On January 4, an animal control officer spotted dogs, including the malnourished dog in the above photo, tied to a tree at a home in Garden Grove, in violation of the county ordinance. The officer investigated and discovered numerous dogs suffering without food or water or proper shelter. In total, 11 dogs were seized and transported to Hernando County Animal Services for medical care. Three people living at the home were arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
A growing number of cities and counties in Florida have enacted ordinances banning or restricting the cruel tethering/chaining of dogs, including Broward, Collier, Escambia, Hillsborough, Manatee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Okaloosa, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Sarasota and Seminole Counties.
You Can Help
If your city or county does not have an ordinance addressing the cruel chaining of dogs, contact your local elected officials and urge them to consider adding this important protection for dogs. Contact ARFF for help!
Congressman Tom Rooney, representing Florida’s 17th congressional district, is unhappy about the popularity of healthy, plant-based milks. Rooney was the only member of Congress from Florida to sign a recent letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking it to do something to stop milk from soybeans, almonds or rice from being sold as “milk.”
The letter complains that “dairy farmers are facing a serious financial crisis,” while at the same time “there has been tremendous growth in the sale of plant-based” milks.
It’s a silly argument. A growing number of Floridians will enjoy liquid taken from beans, nuts and seeds regardless if it’s called “milk” or “drink” or something else. And consumers who are concerned about animal welfare, the environment or their own health will continue to reject dairy. Visit ARFF’s website to learn more about the dairy industry.
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)