Settlement for Primarily Primates Means Refuge Can Move On
New Board Looks Ahead; Promises Transparency
Darien, Conn., U.S. — Primarily Primates, the country’s original primate sanctuary, opened its doors in San Antonio in 1978 as a refuge for apes, monkeys, and other animals discarded by pet owners, biomedical institutions, space research, and the entertainment industry.
A year ago, Ohio State University inspected the refuge and transferred into its care a group of chimpanzees who’d been used in a language lab, along with $236,483 to build them permanent living enclosures. At that point a heated dispute arose and the refuge became embroiled in litigation. For a full year, everything has been up in the air for Primarily Primates’ animals, and since October, the state of Texas has been in temporary control of the sanctuary’s affairs.
The future has been decided, and, as of today, the refuge can move on.
This week, the Texas Attorney General decided to settle litigation over the San Antonio refuge sanctuary by returning it to a reformed board of directors. Attorney Ray Chester, of the Austin firm McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, represented Primarily Primates in the settlement, accepted today by Travis County Probate Court Judge Guy Herman.
Chester said, “We appreciate the confidence the Texas Attorney General has shown in us.”
Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, the group that raised money to help Primarily Primates fight the state seizure, will steer future policy and administration of the sanctuary.
The board also includes Lou Griffin, who has direct experience facilitating a primate sanctuary, and a skilled veterinarian with extensive experience with nonhuman primates. Dr. Michele Martino is one of the country’s leading practitioners of primate vasectomies.
Wallace Swett stepped down as director last August; this is a positive change for Primarily Primates and will allow a reorganization and revitalization of the sanctuary. The board is expected to vote Stephen Tello in to direct the daily operations. Tello has vowed that the operational priority will be keeping a full complement of staffmembers providing care and operational support for the refuge’s nonhuman residents, ensuring that they are safe, respected, and loved.
Priscilla Feral stated: “They will not be on display; their privacy counts, and now as much as ever they could benefit from peace and quiet and a sense of having a stable home, without crowds of people staring at them. But there will be transparency. There will be openness. There will be accountability.”
Feral added, “My promise to donors, advocates, and the public is that this sanctuary will be tidy, well-run, communicative, and a place advocates can be proud to support.”
Advocates are needed to support Primarily Primates and invest in a positive future for the animals living there. Join us as we make it happen, by marking donations for “sanctuary support” and sending them to Friends of Animals.
Friends of Animals is an internationally respected advocacy group, founded in 1957 and headquartered in Darien, Connecticut.