ALAMOGORDO, N.M., Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The notorious
Coulston Foundation primate-testing laboratory has shut down and each of
the 266 chimpanzees and 61 monkeys will be permanently removed from
research, the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care announced today.
The Center, a non-profit organization that currently
cares for 25 chimpanzees at its innovative sanctuary in Florida, took
over the Coulston facilities on September 16. The primates range in age
from 2 to 40 years old.
"We are thrilled to offer these long-suffering
chimpanzees and monkeys the best possible outcome in the nearly
decade-long controversy over this laboratory," said Dr. Carole Noon,
founder and director of the Center." After endless rhetoric nothing had
been accomplished on the chimps' behalf. They had run out of options.
The Coulston Foundation had been reduced to selling baby chimps just to
make payroll. Now we begin the process of rehabilitation and restitution
for the terrible wrongs inflicted on these individuals in the name of
The Center was approached this spring by Foundation CEO
Dr. Fred Coulston, whose lab was facing bankruptcy and foreclosure after
years of mounting regulatory problems and opposition from animal
advocates. Prior to contacting the Center, Coulston had tried and failed
to find a buyer for his financially ruined lab.
According to the Center, the Coulston Foundation was
investigated at least seven times and formally charged an unprecedented
four times by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the
federal Animal Welfare Act. The charges included the negligent deaths of
ten chimpanzees and four monkeys.
Among these were Donna, a 36-year-old chimpanzee
formerly owned by the Air Force, who died from a massive infection and
ruptured uterus after carrying a large dead fetus in her womb for weeks,
as well as Robert, James and Raymond, who literally cooked to death when
a malfunctioning heater sent the temperature in their cage soaring to
Coulston was also facing possible disqualification of
his lab by the Food and Drug Administration for widespread and repeated
Good Laboratory Practice violations. In 2001, after repeated
inspections, the FDA warned Coulston that it would not accept any study
results from its lab while the violations continued. This eviscerated
the lab's private client base.
In 2001, after years of funding the lab despite its
record of violating federal law, the National Institutes of Health
discontinued all support to Coulston. The move dealt a deathblow to the
lab, which had received as much as two-thirds of its annual income from
the federal agency.
In addition to the loss of its critical NIH funding and
inability to attract private clients because of the FDA sanctions, the
lab was dealt another crippling blow when its major creditor, First
National Bank of Alamogordo, filed foreclosure papers last December for
over $1.1 million in outstanding loans. Over the past year, state and
federal tax liens filed against the lab totaled $427,000.
Until the Center stepped in with an offer to purchase
the Coulston Foundation buildings and equipment conditioned on the
donation of all the chimpanzees and monkeys, the lab was unable to make
payroll and its employees were threatening to walk.
The Center's purchase was made possible by an
unprecedented grant of $3.7 million from the Arcus Foundation of
Kalamazoo, Michigan, a long-time supporter of the Florida sanctuary.
According to Dr. Noon, if the Arcus Foundation had not
embraced her vision and taken responsibility for these chimpanzees their
future at best would not have been anything more than continued misery
and exploitation. "This is the largest single effort on behalf of
captive chimpanzees ever," said Dr. Noon.
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Doris Day
Animal League, Friends of Washoe, In Defense of Animals, and New England
Anti-Vivisection Society provided additional support.
Among the chimpanzees being permanently retired are 16
of the celebrated Air Force chimpanzees, who are survivors or
descendants of chimpanzees used in the U.S. space program. Also included
are chimpanzees unceremoniously dumped by the NIH, New York University
and New Mexico State University and acquired by Coulston.
"We are pleased to initiate this effort to save hundreds
of chimpanzees from the hopeless and hidden world of biomedical
research," said Jon Stryker, founder of the Arcus Foundation. "It's time
to fulfill society's responsibility for these individuals who were used
by science then callously discarded by the federal government and
academic institutions. Our commitment includes a dollar for dollar
matching grant for operational support through the year 2003."
With the addition of the 266 Coulston chimpanzees, the
Center will care for 291 individuals who will be housed at expanded
facilities in Florida and, at least temporarily, in New Mexico.
[Editor's Note: For further information on this issue,
including a history of the Coulston lab, check out the following
Total Victory for IDA
Go on to No More
Homeless Pets Conference
Return to 22 September 2002 Issue
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