USDA Draft Inspection Report details conditions inside Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 11:38 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -A draft inspection report from the United States Department of Agriculture details disturbing conditions at Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville.

“There is no need to move the animals, there is only one animal that needs to be moved, and that is Kari Bagnall,” said April Truitt, a Board Member at the sanctuary.

A five-page report from the USDA details conditions inside the sanctuary, founded by Bagnall. The report states, “the attending veterinarian (av) does not have appropriate authority over the veterinary care of the animals at the facility.”

Inspectors also say there is limited to no communication between the attending vet and the consulting vet.

Truitt explained when she visited in July, she found the organization was in a state of collapse.

“Both internally in the office and management of the office,” said Truitt. “Also, externally in the care of the animals, the number of employees who were on site. At that time I arrived, there were only five employees to care for over 250 animals.”

The draft inspection report details similar accounts, “the facility lacks an adequate number of personnel who are available and able to routinely maintain the enclosures, facilities.” According to the report, current employees told inspectors record-keeping was not up to date.

The board member is hoping this all leads to the animals receiving better care.

“The monkeys are fine where they are. They just need to be cared for by experienced staff, by a number of staff that don’t put them in jeopardy every single day. If they see something wrong with an animal now, it’s a bloody miracle because the animals cannot each individually be seen numerous times a day as they would regularly at a sanctuary,” said Truitt.

The report reveals that enclosures had overgrown vegetation, employees were not spot cleaning outdoors as often as needed, and a dead bird along with flies both alive and dead where food was being stored.

Some of the issues needed to be resolved by early this month, while others must be addressed by mid-September.

Bagnall sent the statement below to TV20, which addresses some of the issues in the draft report.

“We do have a lot of overgrowth, there has been an unusual amount of rain the past year, even our dry season was wet, so we had more growth than normal. Our past landscaper decided to go back to school, and it took a while to find another landscaper/groundskeeper, however we recently hired another who will not only be mowing and weed eating the grounds, he will be working inside and around all of the habitats that are overgrown.

The staff who had controlled drugs and monkey food in the refrigerator infested with insects was told only a few days ago to clean the refrigerator, and the directive was ignored, this infraction will be delt with immediately. First priority being to weed around the doors, which made it difficult to open the gates to the enclosures, this is in process now.

The rusty runways in Oz were not remedied by staff, now Specialty Fence has been hired and will be working on those runways while they are working on Geriatric Jungle.

The staff who had the tunnels under the habitat are now doing daily perimeter checks. The same staff member had the deceased bird in the freezer with monkey treats and had been warned previously about regulations regarding animal food storage. She has also been providing the supplementation that the Attending Veterinarian (AV) had discontinued and these infractions will be dealt with immediately.

We realize that Jungle Friends, like so many other employers are having difficulty finding staff. We are happy to report that since the inspection we have hire 4 more staff and have 4 more interviews scheduled. We see light at the end of the tunnel.”

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