[monkeywire] Wildlife park ordered to give up chimps

Carrie McLaren carrie at stayfreemagazine.org
Tue Oct 15 11:13:08 EDT 2002


Wildlife park ordered to give up chimps
By Associated Press, 10/12/2002 11:33

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) A New Hampshire judge has ordered the owner of the 
Greenville Wildlife Park to give up custody of two young chimpanzees.

The judge ruled Friday that they belong to Drew Weber, owner of the 
Lowell Spinners baseball team.

Weber sued the park and its operator, Glen Eldridge, seeking custody 
of the chimpanzees, Arthur and Phoenix, and charging that Eldridge 
wasn't properly caring for them.

Weber's lawyer, Tammy Richardson of Boston, said he wants the chimps 
transferred to the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston until their ownership 
can be finally resolved. He ultimately wants them placed in a Florida 
sanctuary.

Originally, he wanted to have them trained to perform at ballgames.

Judge William Groff issued a temporary injunction Friday afternoon, 
ordering Eldridge to continue to care for the chimps until Weber can 
arrange for them to be moved. Though subject to a final hearing and 
further ruling, Groff's order states that Weber's evidence ''clearly 
establishes'' that he ''is the rightful owner of the two 
chimpanzees.''

''The court does not find that (Eldridge or the Wildlife Park) have 
abused the chimpanzees or that they have failed to provide adequate 
food, water, shelter and medical care,'' Groff ruled.

However, he added that it didn't appear that their living 
arrangements at the park met the chimps' developmental and social 
needs.

The two chimps came from the Coulston Foundation of Alamogordo, N.M., 
a now-defunct chimpanzee research lab. Some 266 chimpanzees were 
transferred to the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care in Fort Pierce, 
Fla., after the Coulston Foundation shut down last month, according 
to reports by various animal advocacy groups.

Weber claims he paid the Coulston Foundation $67,500 for the two 
chimps, then infants, in March and April 2001.

Richardson submitted bank records of wire transfers to back Weber's 
claim, as well as documents signed by Coulston CEO Frederick Coulston 
transferring ''all rights of ownership and title'' to the chimps to 
the Lowell Spinners.

Richardson argued Eldridge had agreed to care for and train the 
chimps for Weber. In return, she said, Weber agreed to allow Eldridge 
to exhibit the chimps on his own, and share in any proceeds.

''The contract was entirely verbal in hindsight, perhaps not the best 
choice,'' Richardson said.

Eldridge claims Coulston donated the chimps to his zoo, said his 
lawyer, Charles Moser of Bedford.

Moser also produced documents, which Richardson argued were merely 
transport papers, to back his claim. Moser said Weber offered to put 
up $20,000 to market the chimps, and that Eldridge and Weber agreed 
to share proceeds from all appearances.

Weber charged that Eldridge has failed to provide adequate housing 
and care for the two chimps, and asserts that both chimps have 
suffered from repeated respiratory infections and recurring diarrhea.

Moser submitted an affidavit from Eldridge's veterinarian, Dr. 
Michael Maki of Wilton, who wrote that both chimps ''always appear to 
be clean, happy, in good physical condition and well cared for.''

Moser said Weber's accusations were based on testimony from a 
disgruntled former employee.




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