Hendry Co. to Monkey Farm: 21 days to explain monkey testing

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HENDRY COUNTY, Fla.- Hendry County has launched an investigation into the area’s oldest and largest monkey-research and breeding facility, referencing USDA documents.

The documents show the facility performed an average of three tests and/or experiments on monkeys a day in 2014.

The county sent the notification of investigation via certified mail to Primate Products last week, detailing the potential code violations.

Primate Products has 21 days to explain the violations and allow a code inspector on its property.

Possible violations include the 1,148 primate tests/research/experiments the company admitted it performed to the USDA last year. Other violations include the possibility the company was operating outside the scope of its agricultural zoning designation by manufacturing primate-restraint products.

Primate Products’ president Thomas Rowell said the reported tests are animal “usage.”

“Usage” includes the practice of extracting dead fetuses via C-section abortions from female primates, then selling them to buyers.  Human breast pumps are then used on the still lactating female monkeys, as their milk is extracted and sold.

Rowell said he does not consider this testing or experimentation and likens the business to a farmer milking a cow.

Rowell said the surgical operations are performed by veterinarians or trained technicians.

Former Primate Products employee David Roebuck told WINK News he worked at the more than 600-acre property in southern Hendry County for a total of two days, then quit in disgust.

Roebuck said he learned he would be asked to perform C-section abortions after discovering a freezer filled with monkey organs and fetuses.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve seen some things I didn’t like,” Roebuck said.  “When I got involved in that, I knew I just couldn’t live with myself if I was going to be doing
that. I couldn’t do it.”

WINK News discovered USDA reports of testing/experimentation at Primate Products in March. Hendry County officials said they had no idea the company was engaging in experimentation.

Primate Products representative Ed Mashburn told county officials during a 2012 development meeting there was no animal testing or experimenting at the Panther Tracks facility.

County officials recently confirmed Primate Products is leasing a large portion of its expanded facility to foreign monkey breeder BioCulture.

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