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For Immediate Release: 03/12/08

Change in regulations demanded after killing of Spokane monkey

Hundreds of primates kept as pets in WA; dogs and cats not killed, why monkeys?

Seattle, WA — After the pointless killing of an innocent monkey in Spokane, Born Free USA united with the Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA), a national animal advocacy organization, is calling upon Washington public health officials to review its rabies kill plans.

Despite offers to re-home Chico to the internationally renowned Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas, as well as to finance rabies prophylaxis for the victims, state officials decided to needlessly kill the monkey to test for rabies—even after he had completed the state’s mandatory 10-day rabies quarantine and showed no evidence of disease at that time.

“This is a tragic situation. There was no medical reason why this monkey was killed,” says Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, 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, had been in quarantine for 10 days since the incident and had reportedly shown no sign of any neurologic disease, let alone rabies.”

Born Free USA had offered to care for the animal at its 186-acre 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 with 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. Buyukmihci. “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, his life was taken from him for 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. “People want to know why the outcome for this animal was so different, and so harsh, as compared to other animals kept as pets.”

Born Free USA co-sponsored 2007 legislation which banned the private ownership of dangerous wild animals, including nonhuman primates, in Washington State.

Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute and is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization working to keep wild animals in the wild through legislation, litigation and education. More information can be found at www.bornfreeusa.org.


Zibby Wilder, 206.898.7872, press@bornfreeusa.org

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