Letter to Emory University President

Letter to Emory University President

Dr. Claire E. Sterk
Office of the President
408 Administration Building
201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322



Dear Dr. Sterk:

As you may know, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society took up the banner last year to prevent the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes) from sending eight—now seven, as Abby recently died at Yerkes—retired laboratory chimpanzees overseas to Wingham Wildlife Park, an unaccredited zoo in the United Kingdom.

To this end, we brought the matter before the federal district court in D.C. and, yesterday evening, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued her ruling. In summary, we were unable to prevail not because the case lacked merit, but rather because of the legal technicality of standing, i.e., she found that none of the Plaintiffs had the requisite “injury” to pursue the case.

However, in her summary judgement decision, Judge Jackson went to great lengths to recognize the merits of our case. In particular, we bring to your attention pages 55–58 in the attached copy of her decision, in which she stated: “…Plaintiffs have ably made the persuasive argument that, far from viewing Section 10(a) as a limit on the circumstances in which the permitting of activities that impact endangered species can occur, FWS now apparently views that provision as a green light to launch a permit-exchange program wherein the agency brokers deals between, on the one hand, anyone who wishes to access endangered species in a manner prohibited by the ESA and has sufficient funds to finance that desire, and on the other, the agency’s own favored, species-related recipients of funds and other services.” She also wrote: “This Court considers doubtful FWS’s insistence that, when Congress penned Section 10(a) [the Endangered Species Act] it intended to authorize the agency to ‘sell’ its permits in this fashion so long as the affected species might (as a whole) be conceived of as benefitting from the exchange.” The judge, therefore, has put forth a virtual indictment of the very manner in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wields its power to grant endangered species export permits.

We therefore ask that, on moral and ethical grounds, the Emory University Board of Trustees direct Dr. R. Paul Johnson, Director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, to withdraw the decision to send these seven endangered chimpanzees overseas to an unaccredited zoo. To allow it to occur in the face of a legal technicality that would otherwise have stopped it is to show disregard for not only these chimpanzees but the learned opinion of our Courts. And, we note that there are several sanctuaries willing and eager to serve your chimpanzees. One, in Florida, can welcome them as soon as two weeks from a commitment to transfer them. And finally, NEAVS remains committed to providing Georgia, the matriarch, with lifetime care funding.

In the attached full judgment, we have highlighted key portions summarizing Judge Jackson’s standpoint on the legality of the permit.

Respectfully yours,

Theodora Capaldo, EdD
New England Anti-Vivisection Society
333 Washington Street Suite 850
Boston, MA 02108
617 523 6020



CC: Board of Directors c/o Dee Wilson, Senior Managing Director, Board Administration

Photo: 2006/Yerkes' history of bad decisions: Hunter and Lyons twins together for 21 years until Yerkes separated them. Lyons, in kidney failure, was sent to sanctuary -- alone . Hunter was sent to an invasive research lab. Both died within a year and a half of their transfer. When will Yerkes start doing right by their chimps?