Leaked Internal Email Uncovers Monkey Death at Woodland Park Zoo Due to Improper Handling

A male patas monkey. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

We at the Northwest Animal Rights Network are shocked to learn of a recent incident at the Woodland Park Zoo that involved the death of a monkey due to apparent improper handling by zoo staff. An internal email was leaked by a zoo employee to In Defense of Animals — an international organization we have worked with in previous campaigns — who then reported the information. According to the zoo employee, a male patas monkey suffered grave injuries several weeks ago when zoo staff, reportedly operating against the advice of keepers, captured the monkey with a net. An internal email dated March 2, 2013, obtained by IDA, confirms the monkey suffered a severe compound leg fracture, a traumatic brain injury, and extensive bruising. Zoo staff reportedly placed the injured monkey in a kennel following capture, yet despite his serious injuries, the monkey languished in the kennel alone for an estimated two hours without medical attention or medication to alleviate his pain. A veterinarian eventually euthanized the monkey.

Obviously any case of animal abuse is disturbing, but this has far more serious implications as the zoo employee stated that the monkey would be alive today if proper procedures had been followed. Due to apparent negligence and the failure to adhere to policies concerning the welfare of animals, he suffered painful and life-threatening injuries and was left alone to languish without medical attention for a substantial amount of time.

The IDA has subsequently submitted a complaint to the USDA, stating that this reported incident may violate multiple provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including improper handling of an animal and failure to provide adequate veterinary care.

“The last hours of this monkey’s life were full of terror and pain, as evidenced by information received from the zoo employee and the internal email detailing the monkey’s injuries. This reported case demonstrates a disturbing lack of respect, empathy, and compassion for a vulnerable animal and raises the question of whether other similar cases at the Woodland Park Zoo never see the light of day,” said IDA spokesperson Nicole Meyer. “IDA is asking the USDA to conduct a thorough investigation and to hold zoo staff accountable for this alleged incident.”

We at NARN also urge the USDA to investigate this report and to hold the zoo accountable as well, and we will provide updates about the complaint from the USDA as to what actions, if any, occur as a result. We will also work with IDA for any further actions concerning this incident.