The Primate Center Foundation in Cali, Colombia, has been shut down after the environmental agency Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC) and the Colombian Office of the Attorney General (OAG) seized 108 monkeys in poor health. Sócrates Herrera Valencia and Myriam Arévalo Ramírez, owners of the facility, are being investigated for the alleged illegal experimentation and capture of monkeys as well as animal welfare crimes.

The animal rights organisation PETA investigated this facility for 18 months and found six squirrel monkeys and 102 owl monkeys forced to live amid their own waste in rusty cages. After the exposé, official Inspectors found a dead baby monkey and a monkey missing an eye, and uncovered the unexplained disappearances of 21 other monkeys.

Veterinary examinations of the survivors revealed more problems, including skin necrosis, fractured finger, purulent discharge from one monkey’s only eye, amputations, old fractures, skin lesions, cracked and missing teeth, lip lesions, corneal lesions, hair loss, dermatitis, and hyperkeratosis.

In a tweet, the CVC said, “The CVC recovered 108 #Primates used in a scientific study in #Cali. According to an official from the #Prosecutor’s Office, this is the largest #Fauna rescue operation that has been carried out so far.”

Ten universities and research institutions around the world are now distancing themselves from this primate centre which was founded by the US taxpayer as it received funds from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The agency has given to this centre more than $17 million in taxpayer funds over the past 20 years, supposedly to develop a malaria vaccine, which has never been produced.

In a recent letter to NIH officials, PETA urged the agency to cancel the current National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases contracts as well as return any money paid to the couple who run the centre.

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“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.