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ARCHIVE : Issue Two


THE ROLE OF THE JOHANNESBURG ZOO IN THE VIVISECTION INDUSTRY

In a South Africawhich is fast becoming the organized crime capital of the world, a new kind of ‘laundering" has emerged the laundering of animals destined for vivisection labs. And in this our zoos appear to have been willing accomplices.

Because of public opinion it is difficult to obtain permits for the import/export of primates to and from South Africa when their destination is the vivisection labs. With zoos the restrictions are somewhat relaxed, probably because zoos claim to play a role in breeding endangered species. And so it is comparatively easy to transfer these animals from one country to another provided they are going zoo-to-zoo. Once the inter-zoo transfer has taken place there appears to be no control over what happens to that particular animal. Who is to notice that the animal which goes to the vivisection lab is the same animal which was imported? Animals do not have I.D. documents. Consequent to the TRC hearings into South Africa’s chemical and biological warfare experiments, it emerged that Johannesburgzoo had supplied the infamous Roodeplaat Research Labs (RRL), with Chimpanzees in the 1980’s. IN 1984 the RRL had used the zoo-to-zoo method to import three young chimps from an overseas research facility INTERLAB through a British zoo, Ravensdown (INTERLAB being one of the local companies which amalgamated to form the SADF’s Roodeplaat). In this way the RRL did not have to declare the immoral intent of their research, namely to "stop black people from breeding". Dr. Daniel Goosen, veterinarian and first MD of Roodeplaat, maintains this research would have saved many starving black children.So, it would seem, there are still some philanthropists among us.The Director of the Johannesburg Zoo was then Mr.Willie Labuschagne who left in 1985, and now heads the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria .In 1992 SAAV asked Dr. Condy, the current Director of the Johannesburg Zoo whether they had ever supplied animals to research laboratories. This was emphatically denied by them. But history has proved that they withheld the truth from SAAV. Small wonder that they refused to supply us with this denial in writing. As a result of media reports, Michelle Pickover of our Johannesburg Branch again met with Dr. P.R. Condy and his staff on 19th June 1998 .At the meeting Dr. Condy stated that the zoo wanted to be entirely honestwith SAAV vis-á-vis its relationship with RRL and honestly and openly stated that the three chimps mentioned in the media were the only animals that went from the zoo to research laboratories. So SAAV promptly produced copies of nature conservation permits showing that, in the 1980’s, the zoo had supplied vervet monkeys, rabbits and chickens to the National Centre for Occupational Health. With hardly a blush their convenient response was that they did not know about this. Perhaps they should have checked their own records. It has now become clear that the Johannesburg Zoo, in the past, supplied research laboratories with animals. In a telephone interview with SAAV recently Mr. Labuschagne said that there was a long standing arrangement that the Johannesburg Zoo supplied animals, particularly vervets, to research laboratories. (The Pretoria Zoo which Mr. Labuschagne headed since 1992 could not emphatically deny in writing to SAAV Pretoria in 1993 that they did the same). When SAAV asked him whether the people who brought other animals to the zoo for safe keeping knew that this was the zoo’s intention, his reply was that suchpeople had to sign an affidavit which stated that the zoo was under no obligation and that it could do what it thought "was best for the animal". In a letter to SAAV dated 29th June 1998 Dr. Condy states that since 1992 the zoo took an internal policy decision not to supply animals for experimentation purposes that do not usefully further or advance conservation efforts. The Johannesburg Zoo is funded with public money. We therefore have a right to demand that they act in an accountable and transparent manner. They need to open themselves up to public scrutiny so that these horrendous acts cannot be repeated. (Read Whatever happened to Jackie on page 4) Write to Mr. Westerveldt, Executive Officer, Metro Parks and Cemeteries, P.O. Box 2824 Johannesburg 2000. Or fax him on 403 4495. Express your concern about the Johannesburg Zoo’s lack of accountability. Call for an independent, representative, national monitoring body to be established.


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JACKIE ???

The sad, true story of Jackie the Chimp Zoos and circuses have historically been ready sources of animals for the vivisection industry. While we are aghast at what happens to these animals who are used in senseless experiments it also behoves us to look at them as individuals with a capacity to experience pain and suffering just as we do. Anyone who has been in close contact with young primates will know just how like human children they are.

Acting on an anonymous tip-off, SAAV began to ask the question: 'What happened to Jackie?' and in the process managed to reconstruct his tortured life.

Jackie was a young male chimpanzee that was given to the Johannesburg Zoo in October 1966 by Boswell Wilkie circus. His 'trainer' had left the circus and Jackie had become 'unmanageable' obviously due to the stress and trauma of being removed from his handler. And who knows what had preceded his arrival at the circus, when he was probably caught in the wild and torn from his family, so that it was already a traumatised animal that was kept in unbearable captivity and taught to do demeaning circus tricks.SAAV has in its possession a report of Jackie’s veterinary history at the zoo over a period of 10 years. It is clear from this report that he was kept on drugs and tranquillizers for most of the time that he was there. Not only is this deeply disturbing and saddening but it highlights the cruelty, trauma and stress of zoo environments. It also raises disturbing questions about what zoos do to animals in their ‘care" in order to make them viewable objects. How many other animals at zoos are kept on drugs? It is evident from the report that Jackie was extremely traumatised and tormented there are consistent references to self-mutilation, frequent masturbation, prolonged screaming, the constant circling of his cage and that he became upset by crowds of people.According to the zoo’s director, Mr. Labuschagne, in 1984 the zoo was approached by a delegation from the Roodeplaat Research Labs (RRL) (including Prof. Melzer, who is now in the faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort and Dr. Daniel Goosen, the first Managing Director of RRL). They said they required holding facilities for three chimps that had come from a medical research company based in France . They also wanted Jackie on a 'temporary swap'. Labuschagne says the zoo saw this arrangement as a blessing in disguise the zoo got three small chimps (which presumably would be more of a draw card) in exchange for one old, stressed male. When SAAV asked him if they ever visited Roodeplaat to check where Jackie was going and what experiments he was going to be used for he said they never did. The deal was 'on trust' and they were satisfied that conditions would be good. So, on 27th September 1984 Jackie was taken from the zoo and sent to RRL. It is our view that the zoo behaved despicably in this case. Jackie had been in the zoo’s care for 18 years but they showed no commitment to him. On the contrary, they seemed happy to get rid of him. It is ironic that his agitated behaviour was a direct result of his unnatural zoo conditions, yet the zoo saw him as a liability for these very reasons. The fact that the zoo never admitted to this transaction when SAAV met with them in June this year is serious cause for concern. Indeed, if it were not for the anonymous tip off we would not have known about Jackie. But the plot thickens. Through our investigations we discovered that Jackie died in about 1990. The bizarre thing is that eight years later, his body remains in a freezer at BIO CON a private contract laboratory that was set up a few kilometres from RRL after it closed down. (One of its directors, ex RRL, was said at TRC hearings to be rather an expert on Biological and Chemical Warfare experiments).What experiment was performed on Jackie at RRL that warrant his body to be kept? Why was his body sent to BI0 C0N and not incinerated, along with all the other animals that were cruelly killed at RRL and incinerated in the crematoriums built for that purpose? In theory, Jackie still belongs to the zoo. Why has the zoo not bothered to find out what happened to him?Jackie’s tortured life is a symbol of the millions of expendible animals world-wide whose silent screams never reach beyond the high walls and dungeons of the vivisection laboratories.


NEWS UPDATE

SAAV FORCES ACTION ON THE PRETORIA BIOMEDICAL CENTRE

A year ago SAAV reported on the cruel, inhumane conditions under which baboons were kept at the Pretoria Biomedical Centre and asked whether the SPCA vet, who sits on the ethics committee, had ever inspected the facility, whether he had put in a report and if so what action had been taken.  After several months no answer to these ques­tions had been forthcoming from the SPCA Na­tional Council other than that they "did not report to other organisations." We are happy to state that, apparently due to relentless pressure from SAAV, the NSPCA at last visited the facility and suggested that the baboon population be reduced by half. According to the Centre, the NSPCA’s policy was to "euthanase as these animals could not be rehabilitated" and Marcel French promised that "the NSPCA would then ensure that further permits would be granted by Nature Conserva­tion for the wild capture of baboons if this were needed." After a report to this effect was sent by CARE to both the Centre and the NSPCA, no denial was forthcoming from either party and we must therefore assume the contents to be correct.Not only does the SPCA have no authority in the granting of permits for the capture of baboons but SAAV objects to the statement that such animals cannot be rehabilitated. IN 1996 CARE, with the financial assistance of SAAV, successfully rehabilitated seven traumatised baboons rescued from the NCOHthe first time in the history of South Africathat laboratory animals were released into the custody of an anti-vivisection organisation.





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