Here is a story of love and betrayal. A story of how a
person's trust can be misplaced. What would you think if this were YOUR
Once upon a time, in the early sixties, in a town called
Toms River, New Jersey, lived an animal-loving eccentric by the name of
Hans Mannheimer. The inventor of tearless baby shampoo, and the "Johnny
Mop", Hans was a multimillionaire. What made him just a little
outlandish, however, was that he had a deep infatuation with primates,
especially gibbons and chimpanzees. Over a span of about ten years,
Mannheimer acquired over 200 animals from animal dealers who snatched
them from their native homes in Asia and Africa and sold them to
research labs, circuses, zoos and collectors such as Mannheimer.
The thing is, even though we know that animal hoarders
are people who need a lot of psychological intervention, Hans Mannheimer
truly "loved" his animals. He fed them a diet of fresh fruits and
produce, and took them on boat rides around Toms River Harbor. He had
the best caregivers money could buy, and the habitats in which his
monkeys lived were better than those in most zoos.
Mannheimer died in 1972 of lung cancer, and the lives of
those precious, pampered primates would never be the same.
Hans Mannheimer left the majority of his estate to the
Mannheimer Trust, which, in turn, funded the Mannheimer Primatological
Foundation. His purpose, by all reports, was to keep his pets
comfortable and stable. Because the patents on the shampoo and mop had
not yet run out, the fortune continued to grow even after his death.
However, the trustees of this Primatological Foundation
were not to be trusted after all. Even though Mannheimer knew and had
the utmost confidence in the people he left in charge, the animals were
not taken care of in the way Mannheimer expected. In fact, just the
The animals were moved to a location in Homestead, near
Miami, Florida. Their "home" had become a full-fledged research lab, and
their "purpose" was changed from pet to lab animals. Not only were they
being used for experimentation, but also breeding animals to raise a
population for the express purpose of research. According to USDA
records, this lab facility has been written up for very cruel
In a cruel twist of fate, during the height of Hurricane
Andrew, over 2,300 of these primates escaped during the storm. These
animals were rumored to have AIDS, and orders were given to shoot them
on sight. Over 200 of them died having been shot and killed.
Eyewitnesses reported that Florida City Police and National Guardsmen
were shooting the monkeys out of trees.....making target practice out of
them. Of course, we now know that monkeys can't even carry the human
AIDS virus. But perhaps death by a shotgun was a better fate than that
awaiting them in a research lab.
The Mannheimer Foundation, located at 20255 Southwest
360th Street, Homestead, FL 33034 (305) 245-1551, now claims that they
do not actually conduct experimentation, that they only breed animals
for that purpose. One has to wonder about the validity of stories told
by untrustworthy "trustees".
This story has no happy ending, as the primates are
still being abused at this very moment. The only silver lining in all of
this came from a very unlikely source, the late Gov. Lawton Chiles.
Governor Chiles was an extremely popular governor among Floridians, and
he served his state well. Florida animal-rights advocates were a little
tired of all his well-publicized hunting and "coon cap" photo shoots,
but he did perform one small act of mercy. He vetoed a bill which would
give the Mannheimer Foundation $100,000.00 of taxpayer money! In his
veto, signed in April, 1998, Gov. Lawton Chiles stated that "The need
for state funding of this type of private research effort has not been
It's pretty bad when gun-toting politicians are more
trustworthy than old friends.
Special Note: Thanks to Nicolas Atwood and the Animal
Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) for all the help with this article
The Miami Herald, 10/10/91
The Animals Agenda Nov/Dec 92
1999 MapQuest.com, Inc.
SunSentinal 9/30/90 and 3/24/96
Letter from Lee Bernstein of the Associated Humane Societies of New
Go on to Another
Return to 17 October 1999 Issue
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