Environment Minister appeals to AG for help in freeing 700 monkeys from experimental farm

Israeli animal workers are looking into sites in Indonesia, South Africa to find refuge for monkeys from disputed Mazor farm.

October 17, 2013 17:21
2 minute read.
Capuchin Monkey born in Ramat Gan

Monkey 311. (photo credit: Tibor Jager)

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz appealed on Wednesday night to Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, requesting that he do whatever he can to remove bureaucratic roadblocks preventing the transfer of 700 monkeys from the disputed Mazor Farm to shelters around the world.

“Environment Ministry and Nature and Parks Authority bodies are acting in order to locate refuges around the world,” Peretz wrote in his letter to Weinstein. “Although the ministry is not responsible for the treatment and rehabilitation of these monkeys, ministry officials are acting with dedication and care for the monkeys’ peace and wellbeing.”

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A heated subject for animal-rights activists, the Mazor Farm was exporting monkeys born in nature for experimental use until June 2012, following a High Court of Justice ruling. Although the government decided in January that the farm must close by 2015, the Environmental Protection Ministry is seeking to find suitable refuges around the world for the 700 monkeys still there as soon as possible, the ministry said.

The ministry succeeded in transferring 50 to the Ben Shemen Monkey Park – Israel’s sole refuge for the treatment and rehabilitation of monkeys – after Sukkot, but officials there lack the funds necessary to bring the rest of them to safety. Nonetheless, Ben Shemen Monkey Park Director Tamar Freedmann is in Indonesia, looking for potential solutions, and another staff member recently visited South Africa with the same goal, the ministry explained.

In his letter to Weinstein, Peretz asked the attorney general to support the ministry’s effort to urgently acquire a special budget necessary for the monkeys’ transport. Explaining how the Mazor Farm monkeys have suffered greatly while being used for breeding, Peretz described how many of the babies were separated from their mothers after being captured. Families of monkeys have been continually destroyed, beginning from their departure from their home countries to Israel and continuing during transport from Israel to their destination countries, when some babies were left to remain on the farm, Peretz said.

On September 30, Environment Ministry officials made an urgent request for a special budget approval, which would be administered by the ministry and would go to the Ben Shemen monkey refuge, which in turn would be responsible for finding homes for the monkeys, according to Peretz. The money, Peretz stressed, would be used for locating new shelters internationally for the monkeys and for preparing them for the transfer.

In response to Peretz’s letter, the Justice Ministry told The Jerusalem Post that the letter had been received and the issues will be examined.

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