1983 The OSU Chimpanzee Center opened
The Chimp Center was established by Dr. Sarah (Sally) Boysen. Non-invasive cognitive research on enculturated chimpanzees was conducted by human researchers and care staff that formed an interspecies community with the chimpanzees.
January 2004 A Memorandum of Understanding signed
An MoU was agreed upon by OSU and Dr. Boysen stating that if funding for the project ran out and could not be secured the nine chimpanzees would be relocated to Chimp Haven.
February 21, 2006 Decision to Close Chimp Center announced
The Ohio State University announces their decision to close the OSU Chimpanzee Center due to lack of funding and that it would be relocating the 12 primate residents to Primarily Primates, Inc. (PPI). While Primarily Primates was once a well-respected sanctuary that rescued and cared for over 1000 birds and animals, the facility failed to keep up with standards of primate care, and in recent years has deteriorated and lost accreditation. As of September 2005, Primarily Primates no longer met the standards set by the American Sanctuary Association. They have no veterinarian on staff, do not have an adequate program of animal care, their financial situation is unstable, and they do not provide adequate enrichment to satisfy the psychological needs of the primates there. Several warnings were issued to OSU regarding the conditions at PPI and all were ignored. PPI was contracted to build two new attached enclosures specifically for the OSU chimpanzees so they could remain as a single social group as, and that all federal and state animal welfare laws, such as the Chimp Act and the Animal Welfare Act applied.
February 27, 2006 The Chimpanzees and Monkeys Shipped to TX
Despite Dr. Boysen’s legal efforts to stop the transfer, the animals were loaded onto a transport truck and left OSU at 10:00pm, unaccompanied, for the facility in San Antonio, Texas. Contrary to accepted and established primate caretaking practices and in spite of a provision in the contract between OSU and PPI, no one from PPI came to the OSU Chimpanzee Center and PPI refused to allow the chimpanzees’ OSU caretakers to accompany them for a transitional period. Documents regarding the individual primates and their specific needs, as well as documents detailing their unique social structure and ability to cohabitate were written by the OSU caretakers, Klaree Boose and Stephany Harris, sent with the animals and given to the director of PPI, Wally Swett.
February 28, 2006 Caretakers Offer to Assist PPI
Former OSU caretakers, Boose and Harris, begin making offers of assistance to PPI to help transition the chimpanzees into their new environment. Each offer was rejected for no clear reason.
March 1, 2006 Chimps arrive in Texas
Arriving at PPI at approximately 12:00 pm, Harper and Emma, were immediately, without quarantine, put in a cage with two of PPI’s young chimps. The remaining animals were kept in their transport cages on the truck for an additional 24 hours because PPI does not have appropriate methods for moving chimps and were unprepared for the chimps’ arrival.
March 2, 2006 Kermit Died
Dr. Vice, the veterinarian hired to move the chimps and who hadn’t sedated a chimp in 7 years, arrives at PPI to sedate the animals. Kermit, the 5’0” tall, 270 lbs. alpha-male and lifelong companion of Darrell was sedated first. According to staff accounts, Kermit slumped forward in his transfer cage as it was being moved to the enclosure and he suffocated and died. A USDA inspector later investigated the tragedy and stated that Kermit was given several doses of Ketamine in 20 minute intervals and that he eventually slumped forward, cutting off his airway and he died. Dr. Vice then left PPI and it was left up to a team of experts from the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research to sedate the rest of the animals. The team arrived and sedated the remaining animals and transferred them into the ‘temporary enclosures’. Keeli, Ivy, Sheba, Bobby and Sarah were housed together in a barren, concrete and steel enclosure; Harper and Emma were put with two chimpanzees at PPI that resided in a chain link enclosure attached to the garage of the director’s house with pea gravel for substrate; Darrell was put into a cinder block building with no access to the outside, little ventilation, and virtually no light, alone. OSU releases a statement to the press calling Kermit’s death an accident (before a necropsy is done), that they believe he suffocated, and that they will ship his body to Southwest Foundation for necropsy and that OSU vets will attend the necropsy. Dr. Boysen requested that Kermit’s body be returned to her, but it is incinerated instead.
According a Columbus Dispatch article, OSU press spokesman Earle Holland stated that “...Kermit’s weight of 250 to 300 pounds made getting him out of his cage difficult…” But Dr. Larry Cummins of Southwest Foundation of Biomedical Research said “that weight is not unusual for an adult chimpanzee in captivity. Southwest has chimpanzees of that size and is prepared to handle them.” Had PPI personnel been in contact with OSU personnel, as both parties agreed to in their contract, Kermit’s size would not have been a surprise to anyone.
March 3rd: OSU Vets Visit PPI
Dr.’s Yonushonis and O’Hair (OSU veterinarians) tour PPI. OSU releases another press statement describing Kermit “as extremely obese.” (This is untrue, Kermit was an exceptionally large chimpanzee, standing over 5’0 tall and weighing 270 lbs. Karl Amman, a researcher investigating unusually large chimps in the Congo, requested DNA samples from Kermit at OSU to try and determine if his ancestors were from this region.)
March 6th: Public Letter from OSU VP of Research
A response letter from Bob McGrath, Vice President of Research at OSU, was sent to all who had written OSU with concerns. The letter does not address the numerous questions and concerns that had been raised.
March 9th: Kermit’s Community Goes Online
Kermit’s Community website and petition goes online. The first petition calls for PPI to allow the caretakers immediate access; calls on PPI’s Board of Directors and OSU administrators to initiate an independent investigation of the events that led to the transfer and of Kermit’s death; and requests that the remaining 8 chimps be moved to an accredited sanctuary.
March 23rd Kermit’s Necropsy Released
Kermit’s necropsy report is released, alleging Kermit had a pre-existing undiagnosed heart condition and died of a heart attack (however it also mentions that stress due to handling contributed to his death).
April 20, 2006 Bobby Died
According to PPI staff, after showing signs of distress, lethargy, and unwillingness to come outside for three days, Bobby was found dead. Dr. Mel Richardson, DVM, reviewed the necropsy report and stated that Bobby died of an apparent heart attack most likely brought on by starvation. (In the report it shows the occurance of hepatic lipidosis which is caused by anorexia and starvation.)
April 25, 2006 News that Jane has been missing since March 1
There are reports that Jane, the capuchin had been missing since the first day of arrival at PPI.
April 27, 2006 PETA files Lawsuit
PETA files a lawsuit in Bexar County on behalf of Sarah, Sheba, Keeli, Ivy, Harper, Emma, Darrell, Rain, and Ulysses. Plaintiff's Original Petition
May 3, 2006 Former Caretakers Join Lawsuit
The former OSU caretakers Klaree Boose and Stephany Harris and primate veterinarian, Dr. Mel Richardson D.V.M. join the lawsuit funded by PETA. Judge Peden ordered an independent inspector to be appointed to asses the health of the OSU animals and to determine whether they were safe.
June 12, 2006 News of more chimp deaths at PPI
The Press reports that 3 non-OSU chimpanzees from PPI had recently died. In less than 3 months, a total of 5 chimpanzees died at PPI.
June 15, 2006 Court Appointed Inspector Reports on PPI
The Court appointed inspector, Dr. Todd Bowsher, curator of mammals at the Dallas Zoo, visits PPI and submitts a report to the court. In his report he stated that “the staff is inadequate for the needs of this facility…the total animal staff consists of 7 people who have the responsibility of caring for approx. 600 primates and 200 other animals 7 days a week…that is a 1:114 ratio of caretaker to animal…in the past 3 years 11 chimps have died…that is a 16% death loss for chimps alone…there are no records to indicate if they were preventable deaths…during this 3 year period there have been about 124 deaths of mammals…comes to 15.5% per year death loss…” Most importantly, Dr. Bowsher stated that “PPI cannot completely meet the health and psychological needs of the 7 chimpanzees from OSU.”
June 22, 2006 Trustee Appointed
Judge Andy Mireles was assigned to the case and declares that the contract between PPI and OSU is a trust and appoints Charles Jackson III as the trustee.
June 30, 2006 First Inspection of PPI by former Caretakers and Others
Mr. Jackson, Dr. Richardson, Ms. Boose and Ms. Harris, and legal counsel for both sides visit PPI. They were accompanied by Mr. Swett, Stefan Tello, a PPI board member and now acting director; and PPI’s newly hired veterinarian Dr. Valerie Kirk (a small animal veterinarian who hadn’t worked with primates in over 25 years). Ms. Boose, Ms. Harris and Dr. Richardson each submitted reports to Mr. Jackson detailing their concerns and warnings. In his report, Dr. Richardson stated that “the chimp enclosures were stark naked cages. These primates have very little if any enrichment. They have nothing to do—they exist, but little else.” He also stated that “Sheba is alarmingly thin to the point of being almost emaciated…the fact that she has deteriorated to this point in such a short period of time (4 months) suggests that her health is declining at a frightening pace. Even her voice is weak. Sarah, the older female, has lost weight as well.” After visiting Darrell, locked in solitary confinement inside a cinderblock building, he stated that “Darrell’s barren environment with almost total mental deprivation will certainly shorten his life… Darrell must surely wonder what he did to deserve such utter isolation and how much longer his “punishment” will last.” Ms. Boose and Ms. Harris were shocked at the deterioration of the remaining OSU animals, particularly Sarah, Sheba, and Rain. In their report, they stated that “without immediate intervention they (Sarah, Sheba, and Rain) will die” and that the chain link pen that Harper and Emma were in was not adequate to hold 6 year old chimpanzees. They stated “as Emma becomes more familiar with her enclosure she will seek out and take advantage of any weaknesses for an opportunity to escape.“ Dr. Richardson also reported that “Mr. Swett seemed quite concerned that just looking into the indoor area was risky…he kept shouting warnings to his caretaker to be careful and not to let the chimps escape.” Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion To Permit Immediate Care For THe Welfare of The Plaintiffs
July 9, 2006 Jane Goodall makes First Statement
Dr. Jane Goodall wrote a letter requesting that Ms. Harris and Ms. Boose be granted immediate access to the chimpanzees and “should be allowed full discretion in determining how best to preserve the lives of the OSU animals. Veterinary assistance should be made available by veterinarians, they determine, are best qualified to provide appropriate care.” PPI refused.
July 14, 2006 Trustee named Master in Chancery
PPI agrees to an order that made Charles Jackson a Master in Chancery with full authority to oversee the trust and the animals. An emergency order was not filed on behalf of the animals because, as it is stated in the agreed order, Mr. Jackson would take all necessary steps to ensure the health (physical and emotional) and safety of the remaining OSU animals.
July 15, 2006 Second Inspection of PPI by Caretaker and Others
Ms. Harris, Mr. Jackson, and Lorraine Smith, Mammal Curator from the North Carolina Zoo, visit PPI to reassess the conditions of the OSU animals. Before they arrived they had been notified by Mr. Jackson that indeed Harper and Emma had escaped their enclosure. Ms. Harris and Ms. Smith each submitted reports to Mr. Jackson outlining their respective concerns. In her report, Ms. Harris noted that “there is now a more serious concern regarding her (Sarah’s) weight…there has been no apparent weight gain…” In her report, Lorraine Smith noted that “her (Sarah’s) skin was hanging from her body.” Ms. Smith also stated that the remaining OSU animals “were best served by transferring them to an alternate facility.”
July 21, 2006 Sarah separated from the Sub-Group
The trustee, Mr. Jackson, was made aware that Sarah had recently been sedated and moved into a tiny enclosure with a strange older adult male, an extremely risky procedure for an animal in such apparent physical decline. During this transfer Dr. Kirk confirmed that Sarah had indeed lost 40 lbs, one third of her body weight.
Jane Goodall makes Second Statement
Dr. Jane Goodall issued a statement declaring that “there is no way in which I am prepared to support the present administration or sanction the woefully inadequate staffing of Primarily Primates…”
August 15, 2006 Master recommends the Court move the Chimpanzees to Chimp Haven
Mr. Jackson filed a report and recommendation to the Court that stated “the health of the chimpanzees, particularly Sarah and Sheba, is such that “immediate intervention to protect their health is necessary” and recommended that the remaining OSU chimpanzees be transferred to Chimp Haven as soon as it is safe.
August 17, 2006 PPI vows to fight to the death
PPI Director, Founder and Board Member, Wally Swett was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article as saying “The chimps aren’t going anywhere, and we’ll fight to the death to keep them from being moved, especially to Chimp Haven.”
August 30, 2006 PPI Director Resigns
PPI announces the resignation of Mr. Swett as Director of PPI and named Stefan Tello as interim director. At a pretrial conference the necessary majority of PPI Board Members agreed to a settlement offer that included transferring the remaining OSU chimpanzees to Chimp Haven and allowing PPI to keep the money. At the last minute one Board Member backed out. (Click here to read the Associated Press article.)
September 6, 2006 PPI rejects settlement offer
PPI Board unanimously rejects proposed settlement.
September 8, 2006 Judge dismisses case for Lack of Standing
Judge Mireles unexpectedly grants PPI’s First Amended Motion to Dismiss, based on lack of standing, and the case was dismissed.
October 13, 2006
PPI is placed under court ordered receivership due to inhumane conditions and mismanagement of donations. Lee Theisen-Watt is named temporary receiver.
October 14, 2006
Former caregivers Stephany Harris and Klaree Boose are reunited with Sarah, Sheba, Darrell, Keeli, Ivy, Harper, Emma Ulysses and Rain. They immediately begin to administer the care the animals desperately needed.
October 19, 2006
At an emergency hearing in Austin, Texas a judge granted the receiver the authority to move the animals that were in need of immediate rescue. Although all 72 chimpanzees at PPI are in need of relocation to better facilities, the legal team immediately begins to search for a safe haven for the remaining members of Kermit's Community.
November 16, 2006
THE CHIMPS ARE FINALLY RESCUED! A team from Chimp Haven arrives at PPI and sedates and places the chimpanzees into transport cages with the assistance of Ms. Harris and Ms. Boose. While the chimpanzees are sedated they are given a medical exam. The process takes several hours due to the condition of PPI's facilities and the location of all seven individuals on the property. During this time Stephan Tell and Wally Swett threaten members of the receiver's staff. Wally Swett makes threats with a gun. At approximately 5:15pm the truck that brought Kermit's Community to PPi in February drives them away under police escort.
November 17, 2006 Chimps arrive at Chimp Haven
At approximately 2:30 am the truck arrives at Chimp Haven. The animals are kept on the heated truck until 8:00 am when they are unloaded one by one from their transport cages into quarantine. Because Chimp Haven was designed properly, with the interest of the chimpanzees in mind, the animals are "jumped" into their indoor quarters instead of being sedated. By approximately 10:00 am Harper, Emma, Sheba, Sarah and Darrell are reunited. At approximately 12:00 pm all seven are allowed to explore their new outdoor quarters. Stephany and Klaree are with the chimps to help them begin to recover from their ordeal.
November 30, 2006
Keeli and Ivy are reintroduced without incident to Darrell, Sheba, Sarah, Harper and Emma with great rejoicing and playfulness. Finally Kermit's Community is together again.
April 27, 2007
Texas Judge, Guy Herman, signed a settlement agreement between PPI, the Texas Attorney General and Priscilla Feral (Friends of Animals), effectively ending the 6 month long receivership which saved dozens of lives and improved the lives of all of those innocent animals living at PPI. The Texas AG abandoned all efforts to improve PPI and returned its control to those whose supported its initial demise.
August 7, 2007
Primarily Primates sues Chimp Haven for return of their "property", the former OSU chimpanzees.
February 15, 2008
Bexar County judge grants motion for summary judgement filed by PPI. This decision could send Kermit's Community back to PPI- the place where these innocent animals suffered the most horrendous year of their lives.
March 17, 2008
Chimp Haven announces its decision to fight the judge's decision to return Kermit's Community to PPI.