Newly released inspection reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) indicate a plethora of ongoing issues occurring at Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary (JFPS) in Gainesville, FL.
The nonprofit primate sanctuary has been under state and federal scrutiny as numerous former employees and volunteers spoke out about the harsh conditions the monkeys and staff face under Director Kari Bagnall.
In an incident report, FWC said they have received numerous complaints regarding the care of the animals at JFPS. Photos and videos sent to the agency show filthy enclosures with maggots crawling in them.
The agency completed a two-day inspection at the facility from July 28-29, joined on the first day with an inspector from the USDA.
Both agencies found numerous issues at the facility.
The USDA reported the most serious issues; six non-critical violations and one direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act requirements for veterinary care.
JFPS employs an attending veterinarian and a consulting veterinarian and the two have “limited to no communication,” according to the report. The inspectors found a controlled substance prescription for one of the monkeys that was prescribed by the consulting veterinarian. Neither Bagnall nor the attending veterinarian were aware the drug had been prescribed.
“After further discussions with the animal care staff, there was no clear guidance as to when employees should contact the attending veterinarian or the consulting veterinarian for veterinary care concerns,” according to the USDA inspection report.
Failing to ensure the attending veterinarian has appropriate authority over the veterinary care at the facility “can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering of the animals,” the inspector said.
A direct violation is much more severe than a non critical or critical violation and may lead to USDA enforcement action.
Other USDA violations included:
Deteriorating, rusty cages
A dead bird in a freezer next to treats for the monkeys
A refrigerator infested with small insects both dead and alive next to bananas and medications for the monkeys
An accumulation of feces and discarded food in several capuchin enclosures that was attracting “large swarms of insect pests”
Excessive vegetation growth in and around the enclosures indicating employees had not entered the enclosures to clean in quite some time
Weeds, overgrown grass and other vegetation that was acting as living areas for pests, rodents and vermin
Overgrown grass in front of enclosure doors made it difficult to open the gates and enter the enclosures
Some enclosures had evidence of pest activity including tunnels into primate enclosures that could act as an escape route for primates
The body of a deceased rodent was found outside the enclosure of a squirrel monkey
A lack of staff members at the facility leaving current employees unable to clean indoor enclosures daily as required and unable to keep up with recordkeeping
Multiple cages with food wastes in and around the cages that were not removed daily as required
Multiple cages that were not properly cleaned as required
A cage that was not sufficiently strong enough to prevent escape
Unsafe caging due to overgrowth of vegetation which prevented a thorough inspection and could potentially damage cage structure
Former JFPS staff members said the issues at the facility are primarily caused by Bagnall who intimidates and verbally harasses the staff who are severely overworked. Some staff lives on site and in winter the on site employees are required to wake up every four hours and conduct unpaid night inspections of the heat lamps on the monkey enclosures to ensure the animals don’t freeze to death.
The work conditions have led to staff shortages with only a few employees currently caring for more than 250 animals. Bagnall’s low starting wages and strict requirements that employees be non-smoking vegans has also caused a shortage of job applicants.
In June, JFPS was suspended by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. They subsequently lost their membership to the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.
It is unclear whether the USDA will move for enforcement action against JFPS for the recent direct violation.
FWC ordered Bagnall to improve the care of the primates at JFPS or face further action from the agency.
“Improvements may include but [are] not limited to properly caring for and maintaining the existing captive wildlife at the facility or reducing the number of primates to a manageable level by transferring to other licensed facilities,” according to the FWC report.
USDA Inspection Report:
FWC Incident Report:
Other related documents:
*Special thank you to April Truitt for sharing the documents.