Wednesday, September 8, 2010

UW Abandoned Threatened Monkeys Nearly Two-Thirds Dead

Alliance for Animals

P.O. Box 1632, Madison, Wisconsin 53701
Phone: 608-257-6333

September 8, 2010

UW Abandoned Threatened Monkeys
Nearly Two-Thirds Dead

Madison, Wisc.... The United States Department of Agriculture is scrambling to find homes for approximately 204 primates and an additional 114 other large animals after years of serious violations of the US Animal Welfare Act including inadequate and improper food. Twenty-two of those monkeys are the survivors of the large colony sent there by the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1998.

In 1998, the UW-Madison acknowledged that it had violated multiple written agreements with Dane County not to use monkeys from the Henry Vilas Zoo in harmful experiments. They violated the agreements one final time by sending 143 of the monkeys into terminal research at Tulane University.

The university sent 55 additional monkeys from the zoo – unwanted by any lab because they were members of the threatened species Macaca arctoides, also called the stump-tailed or bear macaque – to the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio along with $40,000.

In a May 6, 1998 news release, the Director Kemnitz stated that the sanctuary met university expectations for housing the stumptails. Then Grad School Dean Virginia Hinshaw said: “The Wild Animal Orphanage is well-equipped to deal with small primate colonies of this nature. The sanctuary is a particularly appropriate choice because stumptailed macaques are a threatened species.”

Senior staff at the university-hosted Wisconsin National Primate Research Center – Director Joseph Kemnitz, head veterinarian Christine O'Rourke, and colony manager, Kirk Boehm – became members of the Wild Animal Orphanage’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

But by 2006, the university had quietly severed its relationship with the sanctuary.

Now, because of the chronic severe problems at the Wild Animals Orphanage, a USDA-created census of the remaining Vilas Zoo monkeys has become available.

“In light of the nature of the repeated problems found at the sanctuary, it is likely that many of the missing 33 Vilas monkeys died of malnutrition, lack of medical care, exposure, or some combination of those problems,” said Rick Bogle, Co-Director of the Madison-based Alliance for Animals, the organization responsible for originally exposing the university’s violations in 1997.

“The university made a big deal about caring for the monkeys after if couldn’t find a lab that wanted them. They seem to have turned their back on them. The monkeys deserve to be cared for; it is the university’s responsibility to make sure that funds are available to comfortably house and adequately feed the remaining animals. They owe it to the citizens who were told that the monkeys would be well cared for, and they owe it to the monkeys,” said Bogle.

Background files and info available at:


1 comment:

Former Texas Animal Caretaker said...

For historical data pertaining to the WAO Investigation, you may wish to visit this link:

The SA Current and the San Antonio Lightning covered this story extensively.

4 1/2 years ago, I went to the USDA, OAG, TCEQ, HSUS, PETA, Voices for Animals, ASPCA, and so forth, begging for assistance to save the WAO animals.

Sadly, everyone turned a blind eye to the conditions at the WAO for four years and refused to help me. It wasn't until the WAO collapsed under the weight of all its debts, that finally the USDA and OAG took notice of the situation.

Now suddenly everyone wants to help the WAO animals.

While I am pleased the animals are finally getting the attention they deserve, I just can't help but think of all the lives that could have been saved during the 4 year investigation into alleged misappropriation of funds and violations of the AWA at the WAO.

What is worse is now everyone is pointing fingers and everyone else and not the ones responsible for the current conditions at the WAO—the past and current board of directors and all the individuals and agencies that refused to help the animals.

This was a horrible tragedy that could have been avoided if only there were a cooperative effort between the government and animal protection agencies.