[monkeywire] Wildlife park ordered to give up chimps
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
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
''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
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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