Saturday, August 18, 2012

We need more truth-telling about apes in captivity

Last night, ABC's 20/20 aired a short segment on the recent spate of chimpanzee attacks. I really liked that they put the attacks in their proper context. And they showed the despicable CareerBuilder TV ads that give the American public the mistaken impression that chimpanzees are cute little guys who just want to play with you. This is what TV does best: when the networks want to, they can tell the facts in a way that everyone can appreciate.

I also really like Eugene Cussons' bravery in speaking out and telling the truth about this summer's attack in South Africa. He helped people see the true state of the chimpanzees he has helped to rescue. Perhaps not surprisingly, some people don't like that he is talking to the media. He is deviating from a natural tendency of resource-starved animal organizations to play on people's heartstrings. In a very understandable bid for donations from animal lovers, some sanctuaries and pseudo-research groups go a little too far in portraying their captive apes as lovely and docile animals. They rarely show the cages or the protection measures set up to ensure everyone's safety.

Ape advocates, me included, assail the primate research laboratories for secrecy. We denigrate the research industry for their lack of transparency. We complain vociferously when transfers and shipments of research apes are made under the cover of darkness. We mourn the lack of information about the deaths. 
Until recently, it never occurred to me that some organizations would also pull a cover over their operations. When people sent me messages about conditions in the ape facilities, and asked for anonymity, I thought they were being overly paranoid. But I have found that they have valid reasons for wanting their identities shielded.

I was dismayed to learn that several (many?) chimpanzee, gorilla, and bonobo facilities ban their employees, contractors, and visiting researchers from speaking publicly about their operations. Does someone need to report a medical issue? Is an employee (or former employee) concerned with the care protocols? If they tell anyone, including inspectors, they will be sued. If a researchers wants to publish scientific findings that conflict with (or totally refute) anything the primary researcher wants said? Can’t do it. If the researcher tries, they will ruin a young career, while taking the researcher to court.
Ah, I can sense the skepticism… You think I have no proof?
Take a look at this article by Associated Press reporter Steve Dubois, Court: Intern can’t sue sanctuary. An intern who lost her thumb when a chimpanzee bit it off was suing Chimps Inc. According to the article:
The appeals court opinion includes information about the Chimps Inc. operation. It states officials have policies designed to shield the sanctuary from scrutiny. For example, the manual provided to interns includes a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits interns from discussing what they have seen or heard regarding the inner workings of the sanctuary.
The sanctuary's training manual states that 9-1-1 is to be called only in a life-threatening situation, and only Day and two other officials are authorized to make the call. The court opinion says when another intern phoned 9-1-1 after Howard was attacked, Day said: “'Who called 9-1-1? It's just your thumb.'”
Day acknowledged the restriction on calling 9-1-1 is intended to avoid “unnecessary scrutiny over safety concerns,” the court document states.
It turns out that this isn’t an isolated situation. See it for yourself. Below is the non-disclosure agreement that employees and visiting researchers have to sign if they want to work at Penny Patterson’s Gorilla Foundation.

These type of agreements, perhaps necessary to protect against baseless lawsuits, can have some very serious ramifications. A caregiver recently came to me with concerns about the health of a great ape they worked with. That caregiver was prohibited by an agreement, like the one below, from going directly to government officials with information about the lack of medical care for the ape. I took the information to a major animal welfare organization, who said they could do nothing. They gave me the email address of an APHIS official and suggested I contact him. I did. And heard nothing. Maybe APHIS is responding, and maybe they aren't. It's evidently a secret.
THIS COPYRIGHTAND NON-DlSCLOSURE AGREEMENT {"Agreement'') is made as of [date], by and between the Gorilla Foundation, a foundation organized under the laws of the State of California, with offices at 1733 Woodside Road, Suite 330, Redwood City, California 94061 (the "FOUNDATION"), and [name], an individual residing in the State of [state] ("UNDERSIGNED") (the "FOUNDATION" and the "UNDERSIGNED" collectively referred to at times as the "Parties").
WHEREAS, FOUNDATION has engaged and/or wishes to engage UNDERSIGNED to create and/or assist in the creation of the WORKS described below (the WORKS), all rights in which, including, without limitation, trade secret, copyright, trademark, trade dress, patent and industrial design, are to be owned by FOUNDATION;
WHEREAS, FOUNDATION anticipates that UNDERSIGNED will be provided or otherwise exposed to confidential and proprietary information concerning the FOUNDATION during UNDERSIGNED'S engagement with the FOUNDATION, and the FOUNDATION desires to provide such information on the condition that it is protected from unauthorized use and disclosure as provided in this Agreement.
WHEREAS, UNDERSIGNED has undertaken and/or wishes to undertake such engagement under those conditions and under the terms set forth herein;
NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of FOUNDATION'S engagement of UNDERSIGNED and/or continued engagement, and other good and valuable consideration receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the Parties agree as follows:
1. The WORKS created and/or to be created (in whole or in part, whether independently or through collaboration, consultation, etc.) by UNDERSIGNED are (or may be) as follows:
Check All Appropriate Box(es):
( ) Journal, magazine, newspaper or other articles (in any form or media);
( ) Book or article reviews, summaries, desk references, and compilations (in any form or media);
( ) Website content, layout, and/or design; and/or computer code and software; media);
( ) Curriculum, study aides and guides (in any form or media);
 ( ) Ad copy and content and all other promotional materials (in any form or media);
( ) Data systems, assessment tools, questionnaires, and guides (in any form or media);
( ) Directories, membership lists, databases, and/or other informational summaries;
( ) Photographs, film, images, musical composition or media or content of any kind which bears the name of the FOUNDATION, or is otherwise intended to be published in any form, or used, by the FOUNDATION;
( ) Art work, graphics, drawings, sketches, photographs, logos, trademarks, trade dress and/or layout designs (in any form or media);
( ) Other: ___________________________________________________
The WORKS shall also include all modifications, adaptations, inventions, improvements, derivative and subsequent WORKS derived from or based upon the original WORKS, as well as other works related thereto. UNDERSIGNED agrees to make any changes or modifications to the WORKS as reasonably required by FOUNDATION, to make the WORKS appropriate for the intended purpose.
2. UNDERSIGNED warrants and represents that the WORKS are and shall be original with the UNDERSIGNED and have not and shall not be copied, in whole or in part, from any other source, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the FOUNDATION.
3. Copyright in the WORKS shall be owned solely, completely and exclusively by FOUNDATION, free and clear from all claims of any nature relating to UNDERSIGNED'S contributions and other efforts, and FOUNDATION shall have the right to register its claim of copyright in the WORKS in the name of FOUNDATION as author and proprietor thereof throughout the world. The Parties intend that FOUNDATION shall have full ownership of the WORKS and and of the intellectual property rights therein and the registrations and letters patent therefor, and that UNDERSIGNED shall have no rights of ownership thereof.
5. CONFIDENTIALITY and NON-DISCLOSURE. UNDERSIGNED acknowledges and agrees that the subject matter of the WORKS and FOUNDATION'S plans for producing and/or utilizing the WORKS are confidential and proprietary to FOUNDATION.
UNDERSIGNED also acknowledges and agrees that during UNDERSIGNED'S engagement with the FOUNDATION, UNDERSIGNED may be provided and/or may come into contact with, or otherwise be exposed to, confidential information, which shall include all information and material that concerns the business or affairs of the FOUNDATION, including the WORKS, and any and all information relating to the business or practices of the FOUNDATION, its products, services, finances, marketing plans, medical information, research, methods of operation, legal affairs, employment matters, prospective and existing contracts, corporate or partnership documents, and other business/practice arrangements or business/practice plans and strategies (hereinafter the "CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION"). UNDERSIGNED agrees:
(a) Not to copy, disseminate or otherwise disclose the CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION, the WORKS, the subject matter of the WORKS, or the strategies associated or behind the creation or use of the WORKS with any person unless such discussion are part of UNDERSIGNED'S approved day-to-day duties or UNDERSIGNED is authorized in writing by the FOUNDATION to do so;
(b) To turn over to FOUNDATION at the earliest possible time, and from time to time, any and all materials created for and necessary to the creation, production or reproduction of the WORKS, and all copies and reproductions of the WORKS, including any and all machine readable and electronic copies, and all of FOUNDATION'S property that is in UNDERSIGNED'S possession or under his/her care, custody and control;
(c) Not to use, or cause or permit another to use, any information, including the CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION, conveyed by FOUNDATION for any purpose other than as part of UNDERSIGNED'S engagement with FOUNDATION as set forth herein; and
(d) in order to preserve and protect Koko’s, Ndume's or any other primate's safety, as well as the tranquility of their habitat and other reasons, not to disclose the primate's location or the FOUNDATION'S non-public business address to any third-party who does not reasonably need to have access to such information.
6. UNDERSIGNED further agrees to execute any other and further documentation that may be necessary to fully effectuate the terms of this Agreement, including, without limitation, assignments of copyright.
7. If any provision of this Agreement shall for any reason be held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable in any respect, the same shall not affect any other term or provision in this Agreement, but this Agreement shall be construed as if such invalid or illegal or unenforceable provision had never been contained herein.
8. FOUNDATION shall have all rights and remedies which are available to it that arise out of any violation of any of the terms hereof, including, without limitation, the equitable remedy of specific performance.
9. This Agreement is the entire Agreement between the Parties with respect to the subject matter contained herein, and this Agreement specifically supersedes and renders other documents void and of no effect. No modification of this Agreement may be made unless it is in writing and executed by both Parties. No waiver of any of the provisions of this Agreement shall constitute or be deemed a waiver of any other provision, nor shall any waiver constitute a continuing waiver.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have duly executed this Agreement intending to be bound on the date first above written.
UNDERSIGNED [By, Name, If Undersigned is a company, add signatory’s title, Title]
(end of agreement)

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