The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NIRC Undercover Investigator Speaks Out

"Conditions were horrific."

As part of the investigation into routine primate abuse at the New Iberia Research Center, an HSUS investigator spent nine months working undercover at the facility, which houses approximately 6,000 monkeys and 325 chimpanzees.

HSUS: What were your first impressions when you began working at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC)?

"Chimpanzees on study are held in tiny isolation cages in windowless rooms.© The HSUS

Investigator: The deafening noise from chimpanzees constantly screaming in distress and fear before they were sedated. The loud drilling of machinery that tightens the squeeze cages to immobilize them. They know what's coming. The injections terrify them; so does the dart gun that's also used to knock them down if they're in group housing. It hurts. They scream, cry, shake, defecate, thrash about, bare their teeth and rock back and forth.

HSUS: What happens after the chimpanzees are sedated?

Investigator: Sometimes they fall from their perches and crash down on the hard cement of their group homes or steel mesh floors of their isolation cages. The massive, dead weight of a chimpanzee smashing onto floors like that had to cause injuries and chronic pain.

Chimpanzees infected with Hepatitis-C were knocked down repeatedly—sometimes up to four times a day. Tubes were shoved down their throats and into their stomachs to deliver test substances. Their livers were repeatedly punched with long needles for biopsies, and I never saw them get any pain killers. I asked one of the workers about this and I was told that they'll "feel it" when they wake up.

HSUS: Federal law requires labs to provide social enrichment to ease the boredom of chimpanzees. What did that consist of?

Investigator: Chimpanzees on study are held in tiny isolation cages in windowless rooms. Sometimes, even when they weren't on study, they remained in these prison-like settings. It's abominable and inexcusable. The rooms are lit with artificial light with a few pictures taped to the cinderblock walls. That's what passes for enrichment. The majority of chimps who aren't on study are kept in group confinement. The cages might have a hard rubber ball, a bucket and some hanging toys but that's it. There's no straw or bedding. Just cold, wet concrete or dirt floors.

HSUS: What about the monkeys?

Investigator: Conditions are horrific. Dozens are confined in isolation in a single room with almost nothing to do. Their lives consist of loneliness, frustration, and fear every single day. Their physical handling is routinely rough and sometimes brutal, especially when they had to be yanked from their cages with a neck pole and forced into restraining devices. They can't indulge in any natural behaviors and social interaction; they go mad from boredom and the complete lack of stimuli. There is a lot of pacing, rocking; many pulled out their own hair. They tore their own flesh, mutilating themselves and making themselves bleed.

HSUS: The monkeys deliberately bite themselves?

Investigator: Adult monkeys have sharp canine teeth and some of the most neurotic mutilate themselves. I'd see open lacerations on their legs and horrific three-inch wide, bloody open wounds which they'd bite violently—out of sheer anger and frustration. How miserable, how insanely furious are you when you resort to hurting yourself, inflicting severe pain on yourself for relief? It's horrendous and absurd.

"Their lives consist of loneliness, frustration, and fear every single day."© The HSUS

HSUS: Did chimpanzees self-mutilate?

Investigator: Yes. One day I saw that a female named Jolene had a wet, fleshy stump where her left thumb used to be. I was later told that she'd actually bitten off her own thumb when waking up from sedation a few days ago. A 21 year old male named Sterling was a really heartrending case. He was confined in isolation. He had a big gash on the side of his face and a supervisor said he had "mental problems."

He would scream for long periods—the loudest I ever heard—then curl up silently into a tight ball and bite his arms and feet. He was obviously suffering physically and mentally and I wondered why more wasn't being done to help him.

HSUS: Keeping chimpanzees in long term holding seems to be the norm. In nine months, you only recorded some 20 chimpanzees on study. Were the other 300 just being warehoused?

Investigator: It seemed that way. In one building there were many, many confined chimpanzees, and the cages were filthy and looked overcrowded. These chimpansees were extremely frustrated, their faces and behavior said it all.

Several elderly chimpanzees were also confined here, many of them I think captured from the wild. The oldest girl I know of trapped there is Karen, who I learned was ripped from her natural home in 1958 and left to languish in laboratories ever since. That's 50 years! I wonder if she has any memories of grass and trees and fresh air. These elders, like all the other chimpansees there, deserve much better and should be immediately retired to sanctuaries, where they can live the rest of their lives peacefully and more naturally, without the pain and terror they suffer now.

HSUS: What was the main impression you carried away after your nine-months inside the NIRC?

Investigator: There's no humane way of doing these studies. These animals are deprived of any semblance of being allowed to follow their natural instincts. They're imprisoned in a completely alien setting. When working there, I was often told that chimpanzees in particular are important to research because they are so much like us, which always bewildered me. If they're so much like us, why do we subject them to misery and suffering every day?

This horrific treatment wouldn't be tolerated for humans, so why are we treating sentient beings so similar to us like this? Every single monkey and chimpanzee currently suffering in laboratories deserves much, much better."

What You Can Do

Watch the undercover video, and take action for chimps»



  1. Marcello from Canada12:32 PM

    The people that put these chimps and monkeys in these settings deserve the same fate as they have chosen for their fellow primates.
    I wish only pain and suffering for these individuals, and only hope that the life after this one for them is full of sadness, pain, and despair, just as they have done to these sentient beings.

  2. Marcello;
    I couldn't agree with you more. Sometimes I have to smack myself for wishing bad things on others, but I do wish the same as you. I just don't understand how anyone can do what they do to the chimps after looking into their eyes, seeing their sad faces and the pain and fear in their little faces.

    It really does make me cry. They are so much better then this, they certainly don't deserve less then a criminal gets who kills people.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings.