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For Immediate Release: 03/10/08

National animal advocacy group and primate sanctuary decry decision to kill pet monkey

Offer to home Chico at nationally-renowned primate sanctuary ignored

Spokane, WA — Born Free USA united with the Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA), a national animal advocacy organization, is calling upon public health officials to act at once to halt the destruction of Chico, the monkey who bit three people after escaping from his Spokane-area home earlier this month.

“This is a tragic situation. There is no medical reason why this monkey should be killed,” says Dr. Ned Buyukmichi, veterinarian and co-director of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. “The only reported case of a 'pet' monkey having rabies was almost a hundred years ago and involved a monkey bitten by a rabid dog. Moreover, Chico, the Spokane monkey, has been in quarantine for 10 days since the incident and has reportedly shown no sign of rabies.”

Born Free USA has offered to re-home the animal at its Primate Sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas, which is home to more than 500 macaques, baboons, and vervets, many of whom came from deplorable or inappropriate private homes or businesses. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is one of the very few in the U.S. that provide large, free-ranging, natural enclosures. The Sanctuary features 186 acres of dense vegetation with several ponds. The majority of monkeys live freely in these enclosures with minimum human interference.

"Monkeys are wild animals and do not belong in people's backyards or other captive situations, and this is a prime example of why,” adds Dr. Buyukmichi. “We had hoped our offer to re-home Chico to our Sanctuary would be accepted so he could live out the rest of his days in a natural environment with others of his kind. Instead, he will lose his life - his ‘crime’ nothing more than being kept inappropriately as a ‘pet’.”

“Spokane health officials, as well as others in Washington State, must immediately review protocols for dealing with such situations so that animals do not continue to pay for human mistakes with their lives,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Born Free USA. “Washington State has banned the keeping of dangerous exotic animals for this exact reason.”

Born Free USA’s offer of lifetime care for Chico remains but officials from the organization are struggling to break through the wall of pre-recorded messages protecting the Spokane’s Public Health Department.

Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org) is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization and a member of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition (www.cwapc.org).

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 206.898.7872, press@bornfreeusa.org

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