Military Apes Retirement
From Primate-Talk, 3/17/95
[reproduced without permission from New York Newsday, March 15, 1995]
"No Way to Treat Chimps"
By Chris Kleeman
These are supposed to be the golden years.
After a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, these retirees ought
to have an officer's pension and dental benefits.
But for Walter-B, Navy Bob, and Little Guy, retirement for
a chimpanzee doesn't compare to other officers. These apes have
been crammed into cages that are just too small.
Now the army has ordered New York University, the
guardian of these middle-aged apes, to move them to more
The primates were honorably discharged when the Army
stopped conducting primate experiments in 1991. Like many
"victims" of the Cold War, these chimps trained their whole life
never to see a single day of action.
The Army awarded NYU a $450,000 "contract-for-life" to
care for eight of these 30-something apes, all of whom may live to
be as old as 60.
Three of the retirees -- Walter-B, Navy Bob, and Little Guy
-- wound up at Buckshire Corp., a Pennsylvania animal-breeding
company, when NYU couldn't use them. The five others went to
NYU's lab in Sterling Forest, in upstate New York.
An investigator hired by a national animal rights group
discovered the three chimps at the Buckshire Corp.'s facility and
made a covert video tape of the animals.
After viewing the animal sleuth's tape, Lt. Colonel Powell, a
U.S. Army veterinarian, made a surprise visit Jan. 31 to Buckshire
in Perkassie, Pa., where he said he found violations of the Animal
"There were many deficiencies where the cages didn't meet
the minimum legal requirement," Powell said. A week later, the
USDA inspected the site, finding three violations.
In February, the USDA cited Buckshire for violating federal
standards requiring chimps to be housed in cages larger than 25
square feet and to have adequate medical staff to care for the
Mary Beth Sweetland, director of the animal rights group
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), also
complained that Buckshire failed to follow federal regulations
requiring daily playtime for the chimps.
Buckshire could face fines up to $2,500 for each violation,
USDA spokeswoman Cynthia Eck said.
Buckshire spokeswoman Sharon Hursch admitted that the
cages are too small, but said the firm cannot afford to renovate.
"We have asked NYU to take their animals back but they
have no place to put them," Hursch said. Gregory Doyle, director
of the Army's Medical Research Acquisition Dept., told NYU to
move the chimps out of Buckshire this week.
NYU spokesperson Dan Parkes said the university is
investigating the federal allegations. He did not know whether the
chimps would be moved.
The retired chimps had a long history in military research, at
the Delta Regional Primate Studies Center in Louisiana where
behavioral and chemical experiments were conducted.
- end -
PETA HAS REQUESTED THAT THE ARMY RELEASE THE
THREE CHIMPANZEES -- WALTER-B, NAVY BOB, AND
LITTLE GUY AT BUCKSHIRE TO THE CHIMPANZEE
RESCUE CENTRE IN ENGLAND. THE MOVE COULD BE
MADE AT NO COST TO TAXPAYERS. TO SUPPORT
SENDING THE CHIMPS TO A SANCTUARY, PLEASE
WRITE TO THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS:
MR. GREGORY DOYLE, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH ACQUISITION ACTIVITY
BUILDING 820, ATTN: MCMR-RMA
FREDERICK, MD 21702-5014
JAY OLIVA, PRESIDENT
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
70 WASHINGTON SQUARE SO., ROOM 1215
NEW YORK, NY 10012