Primate Products, a primate breeding facility in Hendry County, was recently inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The inspection comes in the wake of undercover photos and videos taken at the company’s facility.
A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA “witness” worked at Primate Products for eight months until late May.
PETA’s Associate Director of Evidence Analysis Dan Pedan said the witness was also documenting the facilities' practices.
“In addition to completing all of the duties assigned to her by the facility, she was also documenting every single day through video, through photographs just how the animals were handled,” he said. “How they were chased around and grabbed by their tails, how they were denied adequate veterinary care in some cases.”
PETA gave the material to the USDA. That prompted the USDA’s inspection, which lists a total of nine findings of noncompliance under the Animal Welfare Act.
The USDA is not the only government body scrutinizing the company. Hendry County is investigating Primate Products over possibly violating its agricultural permit. That’s because the company extracts and sells things like primate blood.
Paden is calling for the county to shut down the facility.
He said he hopes companies that do business with Primate Products see the footage.
“The facility’s customers... need to take a look at this footage and they need to take a look at the USDA inspection report... and decide if they want to continue to bankroll this cruelty,” he said.
The USDA visited the site. It counted more than 2,300 primates there. It also cites PETA’s undercover video in its findings.
PETA’s tape appears to show animals huddling together for warmth, and employees pushing tissue back into the animals’ anuses without lubrication or suturing – among other things.
But, veterinarian and Primate Products President Thomas Rowell said the videos were taken out of context. Take for example, he said, shots of the animals living in filthy conditions.
“Those video shots or video clips were taken during the early morning hours, prior to cleaning,” he said. “You can say the same thing with some of the traumatic issues that were filmed. Just because an animal is taken a picture of in its home cage with an injury, does not necessarily mean it is not receiving adequate veterinary care.”
Rowell said catching the animals by hand has been part of the routine at the company for years. He said the USDA asked them to try to get the animals into chute cages and transport them to smaller cages to be sedated.
Rowell said the standard of care at Primate Products is exceptional. He said he’s encouraged by the USDA’s findings.
“In regards to the USDA report, this is all part of the process,” he said. “The care of primates as it was applied say 20 years ago, it’s the same as the care that was applied 10 years and the care that we provide today was the not the same as it was done 10 years ago. So, you’re always improving on your program.”
Rowell said the USDA will eventually return to the site to see if the company has corrected its findings. He said they will not appeal any of the findings.