Report from Primarily Primates – May 2007

Report from Primarily Primates – May 2007

(including video segment from the arrival of the Primarily Primates sanctuary staff after the temporary receivership staff officially departed the grounds at 4.00 in the afternoon on Tuesday the 1st of May).

Description: Film dated 1 May 2007, at Primarily Primates, San Antonio Texas. 1 min, 13 sec.

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Friends of Animals would like to thank the kind contributors to Primarily Primates in this critical month. We’d also like to update you on what you’re helping to accomplish at the sanctuary.

The first two weeks involved an intensive effort to clean the refuge grounds in and surrounding the enclosures, which were in severe disarray when the staff arrived at 4.50 pm. This clean-up work has been the priority; the staff plans to distribute more updates on how the work is going and, most important, the situation with PPI’s nonhuman residents, as and when time permits.

Dr. Valerie Kirk, who has regularly attended to the medical care of primates at the refuge, was present during the first 48 hours of this orientation after the receivership drew to a close. Dr. Kirk reported, unfortunately, having one word to sum up the scene: “Disgusting.”

Also on the scene during the first 48 hours was attorney Eric Turton, who has visited the refuge during the receivership, as well as a representative from the Texas Attorney General’s office. It was the Attorney General’s office which agreed, during the last month of April, that the discontinuation of the receivership and the beginning of management of Primarily Primates under a restructured board of directors would be in the best interest of the state of Texas, the refuge, and the nonhuman residents themselves.

The above is a brief clip of the scene during the orientation of the care staff, filmed less than two hours after the actual changeover. You will see and hear Stephen Rene Tello speaking about the state of the grounds. The clip shows grassy primate enclosures littered with refuse, including soft toys and stuffing from soft toys, Fig Newton wrappers, potato chip wrappers, and brown paper bags. There is a Mountain Dew type cardboard packaging box. There are numerous wet and heavily soiled blankets, and the arriving staff found food lying in excrement and excrement on food.

There are large puddles of water, some of which could be explained by recent rainy weather in the San Antonio area, but some that has an algal film. The camera will show many red “Kong” dog chew toys sitting in the area where this liquid is. The drier parts of the enclosure floors are scattered with patches of dark mud mixed in spots with excrement and a great deal of hay and food mixed in, torn cardboard and paper, toys, and blankets. A wet, long blue blanket is stretched across a dark, mucky patch.

One howler monkey is in a cage where a tower of excrement stands on a wood climbing area. A dirty and wet soft toy dog sits in a mucky puddle. Generally it is best for primates to have large playing structures (such as high, hand-over-hand tracks and suspended swings which the viewer will see), not smaller items which can be ingested, lie on the ground, tend to get soiled within minutes of being placed with primates, can be difficult to remove from the primates’ enclosures, and can be hazardous when wet and soiled and then bitten or used as wraps by primates.

As Stephen Tello speaks at the close of the tape, a large, crunched plastic PET bottle and miscellaneous debris can be seen near a chimpanzee. This enclosure’s entire floor is scattered with wet hay, paper debris, excrement, urine, and toys.

In footage also taken in the first 48 hours, some interior areas connected to enclosures appear not to have been cleaned in several days. Stephen Tello explains, “The whole outdoor area just looks trashed and unclean as if it hadn’t been cleaned in many days, and the same is true of some of the indoor connections. We’ve made good headway and we’ll keep the public and our supporters posted. We’ve had a barrage of questions and requests for interviews, and I’ve not had much time to respond, but I hope this video will help to answer. Thank you for understanding that the actual site maintenance is our first priority this month, because it’s a matter of immediate health and safety of our residents here.”

Narrated by Stephen Rene Tello for Primarily Primates
Bexar County, Texas
1 May 2007
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