Texas residents living in Brazoria County, south of Houston, criticized plans to develop a biomedical research facility that would house 43,000 primates near their homes.
Charles River Laboratories wants to build the animal testing facility over 500 acres, sparking fears the primates could spread diseases.
In November, Brazoria County Commissioners Court passed a resolution opposing the proposed Charles River Monkey Facility.
Per Brazoria County:
In a unanimous decision, Brazoria County Commissioners Court has taken a definitive stance against the proposed Charles River Monkey Facility on the west side of Brazoria County. The resolution, passed today, reflects the concerns and sentiments of the community regarding the establishment of the facility.
Commissioners Court urges residents to actively reach out to State and Federal Officials, encouraging them to advocate for the denial of any permits sought by the Charles River Monkey Facility from the respective regulatory authorities. This call to action emphasizes the importance of community involvement in influencing the decision-making process at both State and Federal levels.
The resolution highlights the Commissioners Court’s unwavering commitment to representing the best interests of Brazoria County and addresses the legitimate concerns raised by citizens in relation to the proposed facility.
* Image from Brazoria County *
“How much racket does 43,000 monkeys make?” Texas residents were alarmed when they heard about a biomedical research company’s plan to house primates next door. https://t.co/rg1lppVnbe https://t.co/rg1lppVnbe
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 2, 2024
Daily Mail reports:
Locals had hoped Brazoria County would be a little slice of Texan solitude, away from the hubbub of Houston.
‘How much racket does 43,000 monkeys make? I’m sure they’re not quiet,’ noted Jason Robert, a shrimper, to the Wall Street Journal who owns about 1,100 acres close by.
‘I thought this would be a place to get away from everything. Now a monkey farm is my neighbor,’ said John Stern, a retired veterinarian who owns 900 acres and who had envisioned a peaceful retreat for his family.
Last month, the median house price was was $326,000 but such healthy property values could plunge, should the proposed animal facility become a reality.
Charles River Laboratories, based in Wilmington, Massachusetts, is no stranger to primate research.
In 2022, the firm was housing nearly 19,000 monkeys across various states.
Primates, integral to biomedical research, have played crucial roles in understanding diseases, developing medicines, and even testing COVID-19 vaccines.Advertisement
But their potential new neighbors argue the very real risks, including the spread of diseases and concerns about waste management, outweigh the benefits of scientific advancements.
The lab went about going about their plans quietly, discreetly purchasing the land last March through an LLC, registered in Delaware.
“A monkey wrench has been thrown into plans to imprison as many as 43,000 monkeys for experiment,” PETA commented.
“Plans for @CRiverLabs to build the largest U.S. monkey facility are ‘on hold’ after hearing from us & Texas residents!”
A monkey wrench has been thrown into plans to imprison as many as 43,000 monkeys for experiment 👏
— PETA (@peta) January 3, 2024
PETA wrote in this press release:
PETA has uncovered plans by Charles River Laboratories, the largest importer of monkeys used for laboratory experiments, to build the largest monkey-holding facility outside Asia—capable of housing 43,000 primates—and the company is pursuing construction on ecologically sensitive land in Texas despite the objections of local residents and elected officials.
In March, Charles River purchased 500 acres bordering land owned and protected by The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. It did so under a different company name and hasn’t disclosed the plans publicly.
PETA joined with local residents who came out in force against the plans, moving the Brazoria County Board of Commissioners on November 28 to unanimously adopt a resolution recommending that state and federal authorities not issue the needed environmental permits to Charles River. Documents obtained by PETA show that other county personnel have met with company representatives and have known the extent of the plans for months.
“Charles River is proposing the largest ethical, environmental, and scientific catastrophe in American history,” says PETA primate scientist Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “PETA applauds Brazoria County officials for taking steps to block this dangerous plan and urges federal and state authorities to do the same.”
The current largest monkey-holding facility—owned by Envigo and located in Alice, Texas—confines 6,000 to 11,000 monkeys. It creates an estimated 22,000 gallons of liquid waste per day. The facility was built to handle only a third of this amount, so the company hauls up to 16 truckloads each day to a wastewater site in Austin. By contrast, Charles River’s proposed facility would produce an estimated 100,000 gallons of liquid waste every day, posing a major risk of environmental damage to the federally protected salt marshes, lakes, and coastal prairies that border the property.
The proposed facility would introduce monkeys’ saliva, blood, and other bodily fluids into the environment. Monkeys used by the experimentation industry are known to carry and transmit a slew of nasty pathogens and diseases, including herpes B virus, tuberculosis, Ebola-like viruses, simian hemorrhagic fever virus, shigellosis, salmonellosis, Campylobacter, malaria, and dengue. There’s also a risk that monkeys could escape, which has happened at other primate laboratories in Texas.
Charles River is currently under civil and criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of the Endangered Species and Lacey acts. The company also recently acknowledged that it’s under investigation by the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to its sourcing of monkeys from Asia.