20/20 11-17-99 Segment
[Footage - Caged Lab Rhesus yawning with huge canine teeth, Rhesus group at Tulane Research facility, dealers - one gloved bringing newborn
macaque baby to awaiting small pet carrier, clothed rhesus juvenile at Florida picnic, clothed w/f capuchin sitting in highchair with toys]
DIANE SAWYER "…infected with dangerous viruses released by research labs and zoos and sold by free-wheeling dealers as harmless pets."
[Footage - Richard Ferenoto, X-zoo curator]
says "People think of them as babies in fur coats and they're anything but."
[Footage - close-up of adult lab macaque split screen with lab worker who
SAWYER says "Exposure to an infected monkey killed this 22 year old lab worker in just 6 weeks."
[Footage - caged adult macaque split screen with young blonde girl - Ashley Bolar]
SAWYER continues "The same breed kept as a pet attacked this little girl
when it's owner brought the monkey to a camp ground."
[Footage - Ashley]
says "Then the monkey jumped on my leg and just bit me."
[Footage - close-up of adult caged macaque]
SAWYER "Is a pet owner in your neighborhood harboring a cute little killer?"
[Footage - Brian Ross with Tennessee illegal dealer, Dean Ollenger; baby
macaque on floor with woman at dealer's office; caged juvenile macaque; caged adult macaque]
SAWYER "Chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, uncovers a disturbing trade in potentially dangerous animals. Monkey Business."
SAWYER "…We're going to begin with a potential source of disease which could be moving into your neighborhood and we suspect it's one
you've never heard about before. More and more people are getting monkeys as pets and in most cases it's perfectly legal to buy or to keep one
CHARLES GIBSON "But the question is where do those exotic pets come from. As you are about to see our chief investigative correspondent, Brian
Ross has uncovered the surprising and disturbing source of a growing number of pet monkeys and what may be a very real danger behind those
big brown eyes."
[Footage female picnicker smiling and playing with dressed baby chimp as
music plays in background - lyrics "I don't know, I don't know …"; two
female picnickers holding baby siamang and baby gibbon in diapers and baby blanket; female picnicker with "Primates" T-shirt on smiling and
walking with w/f capuchin on her shoulder; female picnicker with dressed
baby spider monkey on her shoulder says "I always wanted a monkey ever since I was a little girl."; picnicker female in cowboy hat kissing dressed
baby chimp on mouth; female and male picnicker holding dressed rhesus and dressed Celebes - female says "They do everything with us. They go
away with us."; female picnicker holding dressed sleeping baby chimp in arms like a baby says "You can't help but love 'em, just like having a little
baby."; female picnicker with juvenile capuchin in highchair with toys says
"I can't imagine somebody being without a monkey!" laughing as w/f capuchin squeaks (talks) and hangs onto her hand.
[Footage - close-up of dressed baby spider; w/f capuchin in highchair with
toys; close-up of Richard Ferenoto (x-zoo curator) who says
"They're dressed up. They're made into little human beings. People think
of them as babies in fur coats. And they're anything but."
[Footage - Ferenoto talking to a woman at the Humane Society office]
NARRATOR (either GIBSON or ROSS) says
"Richard Ferenoto loves animals but what he doesn't love is what he says is
going on in the monkey trade, the business of monkeys."
[Footage - dirty looking ground with light fence - two breeders with baby
macaque going into carrier] Person with carrier says "Is it a little boy or
girl?" - one with monkey says "it's a boy" NARRATOR says
"A booming business as 20/20 found in a four month undercover investigation."
[Footage - Dealer in overalls stand by truck] says
"Usually I get $1500 for males, if they specify a female, $1800."
[Footage - Tennessee dealer - Dean Ollender - coming away from cages with juvenile macaque he's kissing and cuddling as he brings forward to
show potential buyer - undercover 20/20 couple) NARRATOR says
"Infected monkeys, often right out of the country's research labs and zoos,
ending up in the hands of dealers like this man in Tennessee who offer them
as pets for thousands of dollars."
[Footage - Ollender sitting in office] says
"Deposits are non-refundable."
[Footage - lady's hands counting out money to dealer] NARRATOR says
"With scant attention paid to health risks and few laws to stop them."
[Footage - FERENOTO] says
"Every time you touch that animal, take the animal out on a leash, hold the
monkey in your arms, show him to the kid next door … This is dangerous
stuff whether it's physical injury or whether it's disease transmission."
[Footage - Juvenile gibbon standing up at picnic] NARRATOR says
"yet they are often advertised as diaper wearing and bottle fed."
[Footage - dressed Celebes chewing pacifier] "
…perfect for couples who want a new baby."
[Footage - female picnicker with Celebes says
"He's a part of our family. He's not really a pet."
[Footage - female picnicker with red-handed tamarin giving him water from a monkey motif says
"He's my late life child".
[Footage - rhesus and Celebes playing and showing teeth] NARRATOR
"Including, incredibly, the species of monkey known as the macaque, like
these two, all possible carriers of a fast moving, and usually fatal virus
called Herpes B. It is the very kind of monkey that led to the death two
years ago of
[Footage - picture of Griffin]
a 22 year old researcher at Emery University, Beth Griffin, who died just
six weeks after she was splashed in the eye with body fluid from a macaque."
[Footage - Lab worker in full protective gear carrying what looks like a
small covered cage into a room full of caged monkeys - on the door signs
read 'Hazardous Biochemicals' and 'Caution Eye Protection Required']
"In research labs, particularly since Beth Griffin's death, anyone getting
anywhere near macaques is trained to wear extensive protective clothing and plastic face shield."
[Footage - lab worker tending to juvenile caged macaque and then close-up
of adult yawning with huge canine teeth] VOICE FROM LAB INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO
"Treat all macaques as if they were Herpes B positive."
[Footage - Celebes in lap of male picnicker as he plays and cuddles with
her; young female picnicker laying down with Rhesus juvenile on her chest
as she cuddles and kisses it's head; female picnicker drinks from glass and
then lets her rhesus drink right after her; male picnicker with Celebes and
female picnicker with rhesus]
"None of those precautions could be seen at this picnic thrown by monkey
owners in Florida where people were kissing and sharing drinks with their
macaques. These pet owners say their macaques have tested virus free but
experts warn the virus can appear at any time …"
[Footage - male picnicker kissing and face to face with Celebes]
"…even in monkeys once tested virus free."
[Footage - Female picnicker with rhesus and male picnicker with Celebes]
MALE PICNICKER says
"No matter how you treat them they will look to you for affection and love
and it's something, I guess, every human wants to have throughout their entire life."
[Footage - young female picnicker holding Celebes that pushes at her face
and neck to get away to get down on the ground where it probes at a caged
"To date there have been 29 know deaths from macaques and Herpes B, all involving laboratory workers."
[Footage - close-up of document - 'Dispatches B-virus from Pet Macaque Monkeys: An Emerging Threat in the United States?']
"And scientists at the centers for disease control say the growing trade in
macaques as pets in the last few years constitutes an immerging public health threat."
[Footage - Myra Lesley, AZ vet] says
"Macaques, actually, are the most common monkey that's sold in Arizona and probably throughout the United States. They're very commonly sold
and bred in the pet trade."
[Footage - Dr. Lesley near a microscope examining tubes of cultures]
"Dr. Myra Lesley, the state veterinarian in Arizona, has spent the last three years pushing for a law to get pet monkeys banned altogether
because of so many close calls." DR. LESLEY says "There are all kinds of
public locations where people have been bitten - a busy shopping mall at
Christmas, um, a health club, a camp ground…"
[Footage - young boy and young blonde girl in swimming pool]
"Almost half of the victims were children. The most recent 8 year old Ashley Bolar was bitten this summer by a pigtail macaque who's owner
brought it to a popular state camp ground."
[Footage - ASHLEY] says
"We were, um, looking for crawdads and we were just playing around looking for them and then the monkey jumped on my leg and just bit me."
[Footage - Ashley with parents]
"Ashley's parents, Karen and Andy Bolar first thought of rabies but what
the state vet told them was much worse."
[Footage - KAREN BOLER] says
"She had told me how bad the Herpes B was and, um, she had told me that there was a 70 percent mortality rate…" [breaking down] "…and my
heart just sank" [crying]
[Footage - Parent, son and Ashley walking hand in hand down the road]
"The Bolars were lucky. The monkey that bit Ashley wasn't shedding the Herpes B virus on that particular day as often happens but it was a terrible
two weeks before their daughter tested virus free.
[Footage - Father ANDY BOLAR visibly shaken] says
"I went to [not legible] and I cried. I mean I lost 5 pounds in two days from
stress and it was horrible."
[Footage - Evansville and zoo]
"And the same horrible wait has just ended for another set of parents in
Evansville, Indiana where last month a child visiting the zoo struck his
hand in a cage and was bitten by one of 6 macaques. The monkeys, since placed in a cage with a Plexiglas shield…"
[Footage - lion-tailed macaques looking from behind glass]
"…all tested positive for Herpes B although the child has not."
[Footage - DR. LESLEY] says "When you have a disease that's that fatal you just don't mess around."
"And Dr. Lesley says the concern goes far beyond just the macaques and the Herpes B virus … that virtually all monkeys pose a
serious health risk."
[Footage - a newspaper with 'Monkeys in middle of dispute' as Dr. Lesley
looks over graphs of disease ratios] says
"There are pox viruses, herpes, viruses, uh, salmonella, lots of parasitic
diseases, hepatitis, tuberculosis … there are all kinds of diseases, a much
longer list than with any other animals."
(Webmistress note: Click here
for document refuting this statement )
[Footage - woman sitting in dark] NARRATOR
"This woman has been trying to keep secret the fact that an exotic monkey,
a spider monkey, bit her."
[Footage - woman shows leg with small red spots appearing and horrible indented scar - but she only points to the spots] says
"The spots started coming up right after…"
NARRATOR "She has symptoms that doctors in a small mid-western town cannot diagnose. Repeated outbreaks of something that appears to be, but
is not, chickenpox."
WOMAN "…that liquefies the muscle and the flesh and then they have to drain all that out…"
NARRATOR "all from one monkey bite."
[Footage - RICHARD FERENOTO, X zoo curator] says
"We see animals now out there that we never saw before …"
NARRATOR "…and according to Richard Ferenoto, of the Humane Society, the trade in exotic monkeys is being fueled by the country's zoos
… University research centers whose surplus monkeys have ended up in the hands of unscrupulous dealers and brokers."
[Footage - Ross sitting with Ferenoto] ROSS
"You worked with zoos…"
FERENOTO "Uh Huh."
ROSS "…did you see this first hand?"
FERENOTO "I did it first hand."
ROSS "You did it?"
FERENOTO "When we had too many animals, especially excess males that wouldn't get along, we had to place them, had to move them out of the
zoo. [not legible] …where the animal goes, and in most cases where it's
going to end up is in the trade."
ROSS "So you point your finger right at the zoos and the research labs.
FERENOTO "You have to. There's no other way that these animals would be out there."
[Footage - macaques at Delta Regional Primate Research Center of Tulane
"Federal authorities say animals have come from some of the most prestigious zoos and universities including Tulane University in Louisiana
now the subject of a federal investigation into how dozens of potentially
dangerous and highly endangered research monkeys from their labs ended up in the pet trade."
FERENOTO "Tulane was an importing institution, Tulane said they wanted these animals, Tulane said they were going to use these animals and
needed these animals … simple ownership responsibility."
NARRATOR "Tulane says it thought it's monkeys were going to a private zoo and a wildlife preserve, not the pet trade but going undercover 20/20
tracked some of the monkeys to the small town of Lebanon, Tennessee and something called the Worldwide Exotics Wildlife Center run by a
[Footage - dealer in front of business greeting undercover couple]
"…This man, Dean Ollenger, who provided a fascinating insight into how
the monkey trade works."
[Footage - Ollenger showing mangabey in cage] NARRATOR
"The monkeys from Tulane are called white-crowned mangabeys, a breed that can carry a monkey virus similar to HIV, something of great concern
to public health officials. The mangabeys are so rare that there is only one
in an accredited zoo in all of North America. But Ollenger has at least nine
[Footage - baby monkeys; then Ollenger sitting in a office chair]
"These mangabeys right here, 99% of the people in the United States will
never see them.
[Footage - caged grown mangabey] NARRATOR
"In a cage in the rear of Ollenger's property we could actually see the identifying tattoo Tulane researchers had put on one of the mangabeys.
Number L688. That matched up with documents obtained by 20/20, an official roster of some 150 mangabeys, including L688, all imported by
Tulane from Africa under a special exemption allowing endangered monkeys to be used only in research projects."
[Footage - baby mangabey walking inside as woman talks to it "Come,
"Now after moving from one dealer to another their offspring are for sale
in Tennessee for $4500 and the only law against it doesn't involve health
risks but the fact the monkeys are an endangered species."
[Footage - OLLENGER in office] says
"The problem is that, you know, I need to sell to somebody in state."
NARRATOR "It's illegal to sell an endangered monkey across state lines but when a 20/20 producer answering an add that Ollenger had placed
made it clear that she lived in New York and would be taking the monkey back to New York, Ollenger told us he could find a way for us to acquire a
mangabey he called Nikita but only after making sure his visitors were not
OLLENGER "…and neither one of you are affiliated with any law enforcement agency anywhere, right? You don't work for the feds …"
(girl says "No, we aren't with any law enforcement agencies), you're not undercover, you just want a pet monkey…"
"…OK, we can work out a donation thing on Nikita."
[Footage - girl's hands counting out money across from Ollender]
"Ollenger has set up his monkey business as a non-profit corporation and
said he would call the transaction with Nikita a donation. He said our $500
down payment for the so-called donation was not refundable."
[Footage - the girl tries to hand the cash to Ollenger but he swishes his
hand and says, laughing
"Put it down over there!"
NARRATOR "And while Ollenger accepted our money he would not touch it reciting in detail law on endangered animals."
OLLENGER "There is this thing called the Lacy Act…"
(GIRL "Lacy Act?")
"…Yeah, and if you violate the Lacy Act it's just point blank your in the
penitentiary, it's all said and done. They don't screw with you, they come
get ya - you go to jail (laugh) and you live there."
NARRATOR "Having said that, Ollenger then described how to make it appear that our transaction was not a sale but just a donation between
OLLENGER "Uh, you and I have known each other for years, uh, we're good friends and, uh, you've been thinking about getting primates ever
since you've known me and I think you deserve something like this … You're dealing with an animal that is very highly endangered…"
[Footage - Ross and Ferenoto watching Ollenger on TV screen]
"…and, uh, just, they'll burn you on it. That's why it has to be done like
ROSS to Ferenoto "What do you make of this?"
NARRATOR "Richard Ferenoto of the Humane Society says none of this would be happening if Tulane and other research labs and zoos made sure
who they were dealing with before turning over their rare and potentially
FERENOTO "They went out the door of a facility that had imported them, that knew what they had, a rare breed of monkey and they simply disposed
of them and now those monkey are out in the trade. It's a perfect direct
[Footage - document from Tulane] NARRATOR
"Officials at Tulane declined to appear in this report but in a brief statement to 20/20 Tulane said it had followed all federal and state laws."
[Footage - Ollenger's building with business name on it] NARRATOR
"We never did complete our deal for the monkey forfeiting our deposit and
when we went back to Tennessee to ask Dean Ollenger about it…"
"…he declined to talk with us."
ROSS "Dean, I want to show you a tape of that, ok, is that possible?"
DEAN "No, NO" walking away.
ROSS "Why won't you talk to us, sir?'
[Footage - policeman approaching 20/20 reporters] NARRATOR
"Ollenger later called the police to order us off the property and then pelted us with rocks as we attempted to take pictures over the fence."
[Footage - Ollenger throwing hands-full of rocks] OLLENGER
"Get the hell off my property!"
ROSS "You're gonna hurt somebody."
FORENOTO "A gold mine for those individuals that want to take advantage of it and there's nothing to stop them. It's almost that we have to
reach a thresh-hold of injury, disease, death, of humans. [not legible] …something before somebody turns around and says we need to do
something about this."
[Footage - adult tattooed mangabeys in their cage at Ollengers] GIBSON
"Nobody knows for certain but there are estimates that right now thousands of monkeys are being kept as pets in this country. In Arizona
there is pending legislation to restrict the sale of monkeys and a number of
other jurisdictions have already enacted similar laws."
[END of Segment]
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