Monkey missing from Yerkes National Primate Research Center - CBS46 News

Monkey missing from Yerkes National Primate Research Center

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CBS Atlanta  was first to report on Wednesday that there is a monkey missing from the Yerkes Primate Research Center. That's on Taylor Lane in Lawrenceville.

On Thursday PETA called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate.

The center is set back in the woods, away from a main road, but it's in the midst of neighborhoods.

"Couple hundred yards, real close. Those houses across the street, its right behind those homes," said neighbor Nelson Downing.

The missing monkey is a 2-year-old female. She is about 5.5 pounds. According to the center, most rhesus monkeys are born with the monkey forms of HIV and the herpes B virus, which can be deadly. This monkey was specially bred so she does not have any diseases. Still, Downing is concerned.

"We weren't notified about it. This is serious. We have animals, small dogs," said Nelson.

When reporter Jennifer Mayerle asked a spokesperson from the center since this has happened once, could it happen again?

Their answer, "anything's possible."

"That's a heck of an attitude. It should be a zero defect attitude when it comes to something like that and wild animals," said Nelson.

Cunelippe Russell plans to keep her kids inside until the monkey is caught. She has her own tough questions for the center.

"If one can get loose what about the other ones? And what kind of diseases do they have?" said Russell.

Not everyone is worried. The road into the center is in Menninette Kline's backyard.  She said the center has been a good neighbor for 20 years.

"I'm not concerned because the poor little monkey would be so afraid of us that I don't think it would dare approach us. We'll just keep a look out for it," said Kline.

A spokesperson for the center said they are looking at the integrity of the compound. They sent emails to neighborhood associations Wednesday and letters to the neighborhood. Those should arrive Friday.

According to the center, there are 1,899 rhesus monkeys at the center. 

1,233 are non-infectious. 536 are infected, and 130 are currently being tested.

Here is the letter for neighbors:

June 22, 2011

Dear Yerkes Field Station Neighbor,

I am writing to let you know that during a routine, annual veterinary exam June 15 of all animals within one of the compounds at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center Field Station, personnel determined a 2-year-old, female rhesus monkey was not in its compound. This animal is one of many specially bred rhesus macaques at Yerkes that does not have the herpes B virus, something common to the species. This animal was in the process of being assigned to a behavioral research study, which is the focus of the research at the Yerkes Field Station.The animal was not part of a scientific study in which it would have been infected with any disease.   

Yerkes Animal Care, Colony Management, Facility Management and Veterinary personnel immediately began a search for the monkey that covered the animal's housing compound and surrounding areas, the clinical facility where staff performs the exams and a compound in which the monkey was previously housed, as well as the nearby areas. Yerkes personnel are continuing to search for the monkey.  

Members of my staff and I have taken steps to notify the appropriate authorities, including Emory's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the National Center for Research Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Gwinnett County Police.

Daily operations and research to advance science and improve health are ongoing at the Yerkes Research Center. If you see a monkey, please do not approach it. Call the Yerkes Research Center at 404-727-7732. We will work with Gwinnett County's animal control authorities to respond appropriately.

We appreciate your support of our research center and will keep you informed. Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions.


Stuart Zola, Ph.D.



Here is PETA's press release:


Group Says Escape May Indicate New Violations of Federal Law at Yerkes National Primate Center 

Atlanta — Following reports that a rhesus macaque monkey escaped from Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center on June 15—and has yet to be recaptured—PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the laboratory for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In a formal complaint filed this morning, PETA asserts that the escape indicates that the federally funded facility may have violated several provisions of the AWA, including failure to ensure that personnel are qualified to perform their duties, failure to adequately supervise employees, and failure to ensure that primary enclosures securely contain nonhuman primates.

"These intelligent, sensitive animals don't deserve the loneliness and trauma of life in a laboratory," says PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. "At the very least, Yerkes should adhere to the minimal standards put forth by the only federal law that provides any protection, the Animal Welfare Act."

Yerkes has previously been cited for violating several provisions of the AWA. Last May, USDA inspectors cited Yerkes for a violation of the AWA in response to an incident in which a cage housing three primates was mistakenly placed in a cage washer. Yerkes was charged with three additional violations in the same month. And in 2007, Yerkes was assessed a $15,000 penalty for even more violations.

Yerkes has drawn international criticism from leading primatologists, including Jane Goodall, for using more than 4,000 monkeys and apes in invasive and deadly experiments. Monkeys at Yerkes are torn away from their mothers, isolated in small cages, and subjected to experiments in which they are infected with deadly diseases, immobilized in restraint devices, and forcibly addicted to drugs. Yerkes is also one of the very few facilities in the world that still uses humans' evolutionary cousins—chimpanzees—in harmful experiments.

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