Is it abuse? Questions abound after graphic monkey-farm video released

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HENDRY COUNTY, Fla. — The CEO of Hendry County’s oldest monkey farm says undercover video is problematic but says portions of the video were taken out of context.

Primate Products head Jeff Rowell would not return phone calls Wednesday and will not speak with WINK News after an exclusive investigation led to action by Hendry County code enforcement officers in March.

“We clearly expect to be fined down the road,” Rowell told WINK News media partner the News-Press. “That’s a separate process through the investigative arm of the USDA (but) the biggest consequences is losing public trust. This is much harder to recover, but we are determined to try.”

Animal activists say the “public trust” Rowell references is nonexistent.

“It’s appalling,” animal activist Dr. Madeleine Doran said. “It is horrendous what is happening to those animals. We have got to shut them down now, we cannot wait for the process to play out.”

Hendry County officials refused to sit down for an interview with WINK News on Wednesday.  A county spokeswoman was not able to confirm if the video released by PETA would spawn a county animal-abuse investigation.

Hendry County codes as they relate to cruel and inhumane treatment of animals state anyone found to be: “physically cruel,” “exposes an animal to unusual, unnecessary and otherwise avoidable physical harm,” “[allows an animal to be] kept in unsanitary conditions,” has broken the law.

The code states it is also “unlawful for any person to molest or penetrate an animal…” In one portion of the video an employee is seen stuffing the protruding innards of a monkey back into its body with his finger.

“I’m so glad that we finally know what’s going on behind closed doors,” Doran said. “There’s always something when an operation’s so top secret.”

The Florida Wildlife Commission released exclusive data to WINK News which shows Primate Products currently houses 1,375 monkeys.




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