OHSU continues to buy monkeys from infamous Florida company

CVI

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.

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Where are Florida’s monkey farms shipping monkeys?

Florida is home to three companies that provide monkeys to laboratories for use in research and testing: Primate Products, Worldwide Primates, and The Mannheimer Foundation (a fourth company, PreLabs, is constructing a new facility near Lehigh Acres).

truckIn response to a public records request, ARFF has received copies of paperwork filed by Primate Products and The Mannheimer Foundation with the State of Florida detailing shipments of monkeys since January 1. ARFF is looking into why Worldwide Primates did not file the required certificates of veterinary inspection with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Between January 1 and December 9, 2014, Primate Products shipped 1,245 monkeys to contract research organizations, universities and government labs. Click here to download a summary of the shipments. Compared to previous years*, Primate Product’s customer list has shrunk. Two customers– Charles River and SNBL— made up 80% of Primate Products’ business.

In May, Primate Products shipped 20 monkeys to Central State Primates, a site operated by PreLabs in Missouri. Two months after the animals arrived, a USDA inspector found unsanitary conditions and a female monkey with “excessive hair loss.” The inspector noted, “hair loss can be a sign that the animal is in psychological distress.” The facility was ordered to improve environmental enrichment for its caged monkeys.  (Similar problems were identified during an inspection at Central State Primates in August 2013.)

This year The Mannheimer Foundation shipped a smaller number of monkeys (211) out of Florida. Its main customer was Merck Research Laboratories. Click here to download a summary of The Mannheimer Foundation’s shipments.

*ARFF released similar sets of records in August 2013, July 2012 and in November 2011.

If these walls could talk

There is a nondescript building at 7780 Northwest 53rd Street in Doral, not far from the Miami International Airport, that over the past 25 years has housed thousands of monkeys destined to suffer and die in research and testing laboratories. There are no signs to identify the business. The only hints as to what went on inside its grey walls are security cameras, empty cages stored alongside the building, and a foul smell.

Primate Products

When monkeys are imported to the United States, federal regulations require that they be isolated for at least 31 days to screen for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Beginning in the mid-80s, the building in Doral was used to quarantine monkeys imported by animal dealer Matt Block and his company Worldwide Primates. At any one time, hundreds of monkeys from China, Mauritius, Indonesia, St. Kitts & Nevis and other countries were confined in small cages inside the building.

In December 1994, as Block was appealing his conviction for smuggling endangered wildlife, the building was sold to Paul Houghton, the owner of another importer of monkeys for use in experimentation and testing, Primate Products, Inc. (Matt Block entered prison in 1995.)

Today, the protest group South Florida Smash HLS announced that Primate Products has closed its monkey quarantine facility in Doral. For the first time in more than 25 years, the building is empty.

ARFF hopes that the closure of the quarantine facility is a sign that South Florida is becoming inhospitable for companies involved in the cruel animal research industry.