Yemessee monkeys captured, lab under investigation
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Contact Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
(919) 855-7100
[email protected]
[email protected]


Please terminate the animal dealer license of Alpha Genesis and levy the MAXIMUM FINE against the Alpha Genesis research facility for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act because their ineptitude has killed and injured dozens of monkeys. Their negligence also allowed multiple primate escapes. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


Yemessee monkeys captured, lab under investigation
By Meghan Schiller,, May 2, 2016

YEMESSEE, S.C. (WJCL)- Freedom is fleeting- at least for the 19 monkeys that made a breakaway from a Yemessee research and breeding facility Sunday night.

Alpha Genesis says the monkeys are roughly three years old, the size of a house cat, and not dangerous. But neighbors who live near the facility say they're tired of this happening.

"My first question is how did it happen?" said April Smalls. "What caused it? How did it happen?"

Smalls lives less than a football field distance away from Alpha Genesis. She says she's lived there for years and this is one of a handful of incidents of monkeys escaping the facility. She says she's not aware of anyone in her neighborhood getting notice from the lab when the monkeys escaped any of those times.

"I mean was it poor supervision?" said Smalls. "I think that is the question me and a lot of other people want to know because we actually live here and the facility is right there."

Alpha Genesis operates two facilities near Beaufort and breeds close to 5 thousand monkeys. WJCL learned this Sunday's incident was not the first. In 2014, 26 monkeys escaped from the facility, sparking an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Gregory Westergaard said bent portions of the tin wall enclosure allowed the monkeys to escape the outdoor enclosure. He tells WJCL News it is a 40 foot by 40 foot enclosure and it does not have a roof.

"They pretty much always come back," said Westergaard. "Pretty quick too."

However, Westergaard did confirm that a monkey escaped from the Whale Branch location in 2014 and has not been found to this day.

Despite the recent incidents, Westergaard said the monkeys are not harmful to humans and all made their way back to the enclosure over time.

"What appears to have happened is that they shimmied up on the wall and once one did it, the rest learned that there was a route and what looks like happened is a little bit of tin bowed, which gave them a bit of a foothold."

Westergaard said the monkeys don't carry diseases and are not a threat to the community.

Still- animal activist groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) say that's not good enough. Both groups filed complaints with the USDA on Monday.

"Clearly from the number of violations and the seriousness of the violations over the last several years, Alpha Genesis is one of the worst animal dealers research laboratories in the country and their dealer license should be revoked," said Michael Budkie, SAEN co-founder.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa says they will be "looking into the issue to determine whether there were any Animal Welfare Act noncompliances that occurred that contributed" to the escape of the monkeys. She confirmed Alpha Genesis is already under investigation and that investigation was opened May 2015.

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