Spat over monkeys settled in court

2016-05-04 20:00
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Pretoria - The International Primate Rescue (IPR) group has settled its legal battle over the fate of a group of monkeys seized from a Gauteng garden centre a few weeks ago.

Little Falls Garden Centre applied to the High Court in Pretoria for an order forcing IPR to return the 49 monkeys, but IPR struck back with an application to retain the animals at their monkey sanctuary outside Pretoria.

IPR founder Sue Mousley alleged in an affidavit the monkeys, including exotic spider, capuchin and squirrel monkeys, were malnourished and emaciated when they were removed from the garden centre.

She said one of the monkeys was literally skin and bone on arrival at IPR. It collapsed and died a few hours after arrival despite veterinary assistance.

She said according to IPR's veterinarian, who inspected the monkeys, they were malnourished, one spider monkey was comatose and close to death on arrival and quite a few of them had hair loss due to skin mites or vitamin deficiency.

IPR obtained a magistrate's court order authorising the seizure of the monkeys after members of the public complained to them about the condition of the animals.

The garden centre's owner, Adelene Toxopeus, in court papers denied that the monkeys were underfed, although she admitted that some of them were thin.

She accused IPR of removing the monkeys under chaotic circumstances and transporting them in an improper and cruel manner.

"No animal was assessed prior to the sedation process... People were chasing the monkeys around in the cages in an attempt to catch them. This traumatised the monkeys to the extent that one of them.... injured himself while trying to avoid the nets," she said.

Mousley told reporters she had laid charges of animal cruelty against Toxopeus and the garden centre's manager, Derek Fourie.

Toxopeus said in her affidavit she was considering laying a theft charge against IPR because they unlawfully removed three wild tortoises while the court order only mentioned monkeys.

Mousley said in court papers IPR was a non-profit organisation which only had the best interests of the monkeys at heart.

Transportation

She denied that there was anything improper about the manner in which the monkeys were captured or transported and said the capture was undertaken in a professional manner by veterinary students and experienced wildlife net catchers.

She said it appeared that Toxopeus wanted to sell the monkeys to a farm in Vaalwater in Mpumalanga and she clearly had no interest in the animals, which had simply served to attract and entertain visitors to the garden centre.

In terms of a settlement between the parties, IPR agreed to immediately return the tortoises to the garden centre and to release the monkeys in groups of about 15 at a time for onward delivery to the farm, Mapathamacha, in Vaalwater.

IPR will pay for at least one veterinarian to accompany the monkeys and will pay for a vet to inspect the monkeys at the Vaalwater farm and report to IPR and the new owners.

IPR further agreed to buy one white-faced Capuchin and two Marmoset monkeys from the garden centre at a cost of R90 000.

The court order placed on record that the new owner of the monkeys had agreed to accommodate, feed and have the monkeys treated by qualified veterinarians and to see to their well-being and grant IPR's veterinarian access to inspect the monkeys.

IPR and the garden centre will each pay their own legal costs.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  animals

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