Darien, Conn., U.S. ““ Primarily Primates, the well-known San Antonio refuge which recently voted to merge with Friends of Animals, today filed suit in the state Judicial District Court of Bexar County, Texas to secure the return of seven chimpanzees.

Stephen Tello, Primarily Primates’ director, said: “We very much want to see the seven chimpanzees back. Harper and Sheba were so good with Jackson and Emma, the two young chimpanzees. All of these dear individuals found a lifetime refuge here, one we promised them forever. We are going to keep our promise and reunite them.”

The seven nonhuman great apes, who had been used for years in cognition experiments in a laboratory at Ohio State University, were released from that lab and transferred to Primarily Primates early last year, after inspections and reports of the refuge by experts at the university. Accompanying the chimpanzees to Texas were funds for the construction of new and spacious living quarters.

A temporary receivership was imposed on Primarily Primates in late 2006, then — expressly in the best interest of the refuge, its nonhuman residents, and the people of Texas — lifted at the end of April 2007. Construction has continued and the refuge is asking for the return of seven chimpanzees who were temporarily relocated to Chimp Haven of Shreveport, Louisiana.

“Chimp Haven – The National Sanctuary System” is sponsored by the Louisiana tourism office and bills itself as a tourist destination “where families come together for fun and hands-on learning.” What’s less known is that the site warehouses apes under a contract with the National Institutes of Health, soliciting funds from animal protectionists to do so, yet with no guarantee that the apes are exempt from future testing. In late 2006, Senator Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, said the apes at Chimp Haven could be useful in a bioterrorism emergency.

Said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, “We ask Chimp Haven to do the right thing, and return these seven chimpanzees to their private sanctuary, where their legal status as truly off-limits to use will never be questioned. Primarily Primates is carrying out its agreement to complete construction for the chimpanzees, to provide them comfortable, permanent refuge in a private setting. We ask the animal-advocacy community to support this.”

Friends of Animals, headquartered in Darien, Connecticut, has been a leader in animal rights advocacy since 1957. Visit Primarily Primates on the Web: www.primarilyprimates.org