[monkeywire] Parties close to settlement in fight over chimps

Benjamin Bayliss ctrkgrendel at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 31 10:30:34 EDT 2006

Parties close to settlement in fight over chimps
  SAN ANTONIO -- The parties in a fight over the fate of seven chimps living at a Texas Hill Country sanctuary said they were close to reaching an agreement Wednesday that one attorney said would relocate the animals to a Louisiana facility.   
  A settlement was drawn up during closed-door meetings that could end a lawsuit filed against Primarily Primates Inc., by three people concerned about the treatment of the retired chimps, which were used for cognitive research at Ohio State University. 
  A majority of the seven members of the Primarily Primates board of trustees has to OK the settlement. 
  Four apparently agreed Wednesday but one backed out, said attorney Mickey Gayler. 
  He represents two former caretakers of the chimps, Klaree Boose and Stephany Harris, and a California veterinarian, Mel Richardson, in their lawsuit against the 28-year-old sanctuary. 
  "No one's read it. It's tough to agree to something you haven't read," said Primarily Primates lawyer Eric Turton. 
  Primarily Primates will consider the proposal during a meeting Wednesday, at the latest, and report the outcome by Sept. 7 to Civil District Court Judge Andy Mireles. 
  "We're not in favor of it (moving the chimps) right now but as a matter of trying to settle a case we're looking at all options," Turton said. 
  Lawyer Charles Jackson III was assigned to evaluate the health and welfare of the chimps and this month told the court it is in their best interest to be relocated. 
Jackson's report said the facility doesn't have the proper enclosures for the social animals.   
  "Due to various factors and circumstances, the health of the chimpanzees ... is such that immediate intervention to protect their health is necessary," his report said. 
  While most were tightlipped about the terms of the proposed settlement, Gayler confirmed it involves moving the chimps to Chimp Haven, near Shreveport, La. He said it would allow Primarily Primates to keep two OSU monkeys living there. 
  Of particular concern to the plaintiffs is Sarah, a chimp who has reportedly lost about a third of her body weight since arriving at Primarily Primates earlier this year. 
  Two other OSU chimps, Kermit and Bobby, died within two months of their arrival at the 75-acre compound and a monkey reportedly escaped on the day of arrival. 
  The primates were transferred from OSU to Primarily Primates in a more than $300,000 contract and the remaining chimps and monkeys are also named as plaintiffs in the suit. 
  If a settlement is not reached, Mireles may rule on some aspects of the case, though each side's lawyers had different opinions on whether the judge could decide to relocate the chimps. The case could eventually make its way to a jury. 
  Wallace Swett, the sanctuary's founder, recently resigned as its president and executive director but is still on the board of trustees, Turton said. 
  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals first contacted Gayler about Primarily Primates. The group is not named as a party in the lawsuit but one of its lawyers, Leana Stormont, has said PETA has offered to cover costs associated with transporting the chimpanzees to Chimp Haven and three months of their care, up to $20,000. 
Rick DeLaHaya, a spokesman for Chimp Haven, did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday. He has earlier confirmed he knew about Jackson's report and has said it was being reviewed.   

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