Monthly Archives - March 2015

Hendry County Florida: An Ideal Environment for Nonhuman Primates

By: Thomas J. Rowell

Hendry County, located in Southwest Florida, has made news headlines in the last few weeks highlighting the construction of primate facilities in the county. Although Primate Products, Inc. (PPI) has been established in the area for over 15 years these new efforts have gained more than their share of attention from animal activists, both local and from outside the State of Florida (see links at end of article).  Much of the attention is directed to the number of primate facilities that have taken up residence in the county.  News stories have reported that “the county seat of LaBelle only has around 4,600 residents, meaning that the number of monkeys in the area could soon overtake the number of residents” and some local residents have expressed concern in the County’s methods of approving these new projects. hendry1PPI has operated Panther Tracks Learning Center, located approximately 22 miles southeast of Immokalee, FL and approximately 120 miles west-northwest of Miami, FL (at the northern edge of the Big Cypress Reserve) for over 15 years.  The reasons PPI, and we assume other enterprises involved in breeding and housing nonhuman primates in this area, selected Hendry County as the site for our facility is based on three critical criteria:
  • First and foremost, the weather.  The tropical savanna climate of Southwest Florida below the frost line is the only place in the continental US with the natural environment that is most similar to where our purpose bred monkeys originate.
  • Secondly, the agriculture mindset of the labor base.  No one has to explain to someone with a farm background that animals require care and support every day and are thus a 24/7/365 commitment.
  • Thirdly, the knowledge base of environmental and regulatory agencies in farm communities is second to none.  Their understanding of animal needs and farm construction requirements to meet the needs of animals and health issues for both humans and animals and thus their contribution to the location, design and construction of housing and support areas was vital and welcomed.
In early 2000 PPI was solicited and encouraged to open the operation in Hendry County by the Hendry County Economic Development Council.  During the review process, in front of the County Board of Supervisors, there were concerns expressed by some animal activist groups from outside of the county.  At open meetings many members of the Hendry County Cattleman’s Association and local farmers and business owners appeared in support the project.  Ultimately it was approved, and for the last 15 years we have worked closely with the county and the local community of which we have been welcomed into and have their full support.  We promote the interest of our county and local region through both our employment practices and by insuring we buy products and services from our local businesses whenever possible. Throughout the entire process the various public agencies (Agricultural Extension Office, Hendry County Planning and Zoning Agency, etc. along with State regulatory agencies including the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission) contributed their knowledge to help us meet the rigid requirements required by the State of Florida. hendry2There is simply no better place to find the knowledge of support agencies, mindset of workers, and community understanding of farming and livestock production and maintenance than in Hendry County Florida. Hendry County and the community have been very supportive of PPI’s mission for over 15 years.  We draw our employment and bias our business to support the community, and we’ve always been very open with our practices and very appreciative of community support.

Donald A. Bradford, We Wish You Well!

don_bradford It is always bittersweet when a friend and colleague reaches retirement.  On one hand, you are sad that what was, will not be, going forward.  On the other, you are happy and excited for your friend who will be starting a new chapter with perhaps a new adventure or two with their remaining years.  It has been my sincere honor and very great pleasure to have spent the last 23 years working with Don here at Primate Products and although as a family member we know he will never be very far away, beginning June 1st, Don will begin his long postponed retirement.  Postponed I might add primarily by myself pleading with him to finish just one more project, show, situation or whatever fire needed immediate attention over the last several years. I am including a copy of part of the nomination letter for Don’s Garvey Award which he received in 2011.  Although lengthy I think it is a fitting tribute to a life dedicated to the improvement and advancement or our industry. We all wish him the very best of luck and success in whatever lies ahead. Sincerely, Paul W. Houghton 1969 – 1974    UCLA- Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, CA Don rose through the ranks to eventually become the General Supervisor.  He became active in the Southern California Branch of AALAS serving on its Board of Trustees and on its Technician Training Committee working with Bob Watkins.  His work performance, contributions and leadership in training efforts were recognized by the branch when it honored Don with its “Outstanding Technician Award” in 1971.  Until his departure in late 1974, Don oversaw extensive renovation of the facilities and planning for new facilities at Harbor General and laid the ground work for the eventual AAALAC accreditation of the program. 1975 – 1988    University of Iowa’s Animal Care Unit (ACU) in Iowa City, IA Don began as the Husbandry Section Head for the Bowen Science Building.  Don rapidly assumed greater responsibilities and became the Coordinator of Animal Husbandry in 1977.  Together with the Director and University Veterinarian, Dr. Paul Cooper, went on to lay out the complete rebuilding of the facilities and programs.  Again, the foundation of the rebuilding was the training of the husbandry and veterinary technical staffs.  An interesting side note regarding the training program that Don put in place is that the institution did not recognize the need for nor did it provide facilities for such a program.  So Don conducted “brown bag lunches” in the washroom of the Bowen Science Building, with the staff volunteering to eat their lunch right where the cages were washed. In just two short years, those training efforts resulted in the program going from a situation of having only one (Don) staff member (of 30 people) certified at any level to having over half the staff certified at the Technologist level and all but two certified at other levels. Throughout his tenure at the University of Iowa, Don was active in both the Iowa Branch of AALAS and national AALAS.  He served on the AALAS Board of Trustees representing District VI, serving on the AALAS Animal Technician Certification Board (ATCB), presented workshops on a variety of topics ranging from Cost Accounting in Laboratory Facilities, to the Dynamics of Group Motivation, he presented numerous papers at the local, district and national AALAS meetings, presented workshops at the local community college, consulted to the local animal shelter and to a local company manufacturing animal housing systems and served on the AALAS ATCB. He was honored by the Iowa Branch AALAS with its “Outstanding Supervisor” award in 1979 and its highest honor the “Dr. Ronald E. Flatt Memorial Award” in 1988.  He also obtained his BBA/MIS degree from the University of Iowa in 1988. 1988- 1992      University of Miami, Division of Veterinary Resources, Miami, FL Don moved on to the University of Miami in December 1988 where he assumed the position of Assistant to the Director.  His efforts in training of others continued there and within the Florida Branch of AALAS, where he served on the board of Trustees for 8 years.  The training program at the UM became the favored training program of the VA system in Miami, Childrens Hospital in Miami and Baxter, Inc. in Miami, with attendees coming from all over south Florida to obtain their certification through the program lead by Don. 1992 – Present Primate Products, Inc.  (PPI) Immokalee, FL Don began his career on the commercial side of the laboratory animal science industry when he began his own company (RepOne) providing sales representation for up to 11 different vendors serving the biomedical research community.  One of those companies was Primate Products, Inc. (PPI). Don joined PPI full time as the Director of PPI’s proposed Live Animal Division, which began business in late 1994.  As the Director, Don established the SOPs, again wore his training hat overseeing the training program of PPI’s husbandry and veterinary technical staffs.  He developed the software system used by PPI until the summer of 2010 and co-developed its replacement (ENOS) which is now commercially available.  He continued his service to national AALAS serving on the Distance Learning Committee and the Exhibitor Advisory Council.  He served the commercial members of AALAS serving on several committees and as the ATA President in 2007 and 2008.  He also has continued to present papers and participate in roundtable platforms at district and national meetings of AALAS and LAMA. One of Don’s most important contributions to the research community is his role in helping PPI develop its Panther tracks Learning Center and the conducting of (Primadaption) workshops, which center on the development of improved and successful programs of providing enrichment and care to captive nonhuman primates.  These workshops are open to the biomedical research community and are attended by personnel ranging from veterinarians, veterinary and husbandry technicians, investigators, supervisory and behavioral staff. This program has received excellent reviews from its attendees. Don’s leadership at PPI has contributed to our continuing growth in business and our continuing dedication to our corporate mission to provide products, services and training to enhance the conservation and care of nonhuman primates.