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Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary suspended by GFAS

A monkey in a cage at Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary. Photo from Mike Enders - Live Wild, Wildlife Conservation.

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) has suspended the accreditation of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Gainesville, FL, for ongoing areas of noncompliance.

Roadside Zoo News spoke with former sanctuary employee Mike Enders in early June and reported on the deteriorating conditions at the nonprofit facility that houses monkeys retired from research, former pets and monkeys confiscated by authorities.

Enders shared photos and videos that show monkeys living in moldy, feces-covered dens at the sanctuary.

A January inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) backed up Enders’ claims. The agency cited Jungle Friends with a non-critical violation for cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control.

In the report, the USDA inspector described primate enclosures that had mounds of peanut shells and piles of feces that were growing mold.

The inspector also reported an indoor enclosure that housed 10 tamarins contained an excess accumulation of waste, urine and discarded food.

Enders described a hostile work atmosphere due to Jungle Friends Founder and Director, Kari Bagnall. He said the sanctuary hasn’t been able to keep staff and the shortages mean that on some days, more than 140 capuchins and 12 spider monkeys are being cared for by one person.

In early June, Jungle Friends posted several job opportunities available on their Facebook page.

On June 23, Jungle Friends posted a letter announcing they were going to make changes to their policies and procedures. They also announced they are actively recruiting staff, caregivers, office and maintenance personnel. They said they enacted a moratorium on accepting new animals at the sanctuary.

The day after Jungle Friends released their letter, the sanctuary lost their GFAS accreditation.

GFAS is an accrediting body that works with sanctuaries to provide a high standard of animal care, management, and governance, according to their website.

In an email shared on social media, GFAS Operations Director Robin Mason said that GFAS received formal complaints about Jungle Friends, which prompted them to conduct an on-site visit. Mason said the GFAS visit revealed areas of non-compliance at Jungle Friends.

“While Jungle Friends has made a considerable effort to address these matters, outstanding issues remain,” she said. “Effective June 24, 2021, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary’s accreditation has been suspended until these issues are resolved.”

Mason said GFAS will continue to provide guidance to the sanctuary and they “remain hopeful Jungle Friends will have its accreditation reinstated.”

Enders said he is optimistic that the concerns of he and others are being heard, but he said “there is still a long way to go to get the monkeys in better care.”

For Jungle Friends supporters and donors, Enders said losing GFAS accreditation should be evidence that current management is unable to properly run the sanctuary.

“Because of this the resident monkeys are suffering physically and mentally,” he said.

He urged those who are concerned about the monkeys at the nonprofit sanctuary to keep pressuring the USDA to inspect Jungle Friends.

“A detailed, solid plan of action needs to be put together for what a ‘sanctuary takeover’ would look like,” he said.


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