North American Primate Sanctuary Association still working to keep homeless chimps off the streets of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES––Eighteen of the 26 chimpanzees left at the former Wildlife Waystation animal sanctuary are spoken for by other sanctuaries, but eight chimps still have nowhere to go.
The chimps are not really at risk of sharing the harsh life of homeless humans. At the same time, finding homes to take humans off the streets tends to be much less difficult.
Wildlife Waystation is sold
More than two years after the California Department of Fish & Wildlife on August 13, 2019 permanently closed the long embattled Wildlife Waystation, founder Martine Colette’s luxurious former home, as of August 21, 2021, is no longer listed for sale. The property had been offered since October 2019.
The Zillow real estate marketing service on August 4, 2021 posted a “pending sale” notice at the originally listed price of $2.2 million.
The hilly and severely eroded Wildlife Waystation site surrounding the home in Little Tujunga Canyon, east of Glendale and Los Angeles, is unlikely to ever again be developed.
The chimps are the last of 480 Wildlife Waystation animals
Operating since 1976, much of the time without all of the legally required permits, Wildlife Waystation “was extensively damaged in the 2017 Creek Fire and again in flooding in early 2019. Wildlife Waystation leadership is unable to repair the facility to current standards,” the California Department of Fish & Wildlife summarized in issuing the closure order.
The closure order obliged the rehoming of approximately 480 animals in all, including lions, tigers, alligators, wolves, owls, exotic birds, and 42 chimpanzees, who proved to be by far the most difficult animals to relocate.
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest
Only nine chimps were rehomed during the first year after Wildlife Waystation closed. A tenth chimp died. That left 32 still at Wildlife Waystation.
Of the first nine chimps to be rehomed, the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Washington, took three: Honey B, Willy B, and Mave.
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest accepted six more chimps from Wildlife Waystation in late June 2021.
North American Primate Sanctuary Association program director Erika Fleury is optimistic, she told ANIMALS 24-7, that all of the Wildlife Waystation chimpanzees can be moved before the new owners of the property lose patience with their presence.
“A 30-minute NBC special will air nationally about ‘Chimpanzees In Need’ on September 9, 2021,” Fleury said. “This fall we expect to see seven leave to go to the Center for Great Apes,” in central Florida, “and in the spring, 11 to Chimp Haven,” near Shreveport, Louisiana.
Center for Great Apes
Elaborates the North American Primate Sanctuary Association web site, “In the midst of tropical forest surroundings in Florida, the chimpanzees at the Center for Great Apes live and play in large three-story domed enclosures. The habitats provide plenty of running room, climbing space and height for swinging through their environment. All outdoor ape habitats have a variety of climbing structures and swinging vines, as well as numerous toys, tubs, culverts, and enrichment devices. An elevated tunnel system meanders more than one and a half miles through the property.
“Chimp Haven is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world,” the North American Primate Sanctuary Association web site continues, “currently caring for over 300 chimpanzees, most of whom are retired from medical research facilities. Chimp Haven is more than a refuge; it’s a purpose-built home offering 200 acres designed entirely for chimpanzees.”
Actually getting the Waystation chimps to the Center for Great Apes and Chimp Haven, however, “is pending funding, of course,” Fleury hastened to add.
“There are eight other chimps still at Wildlife Waystation for whom we are determining the best home, but we anticipate them being able to leave in 2022. And then –– we’ll be done!”
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, Center for Great Apes, and Chimp Haven all “need funding to construct homes for the chimps and transport them, estimated at $5.8 million,” the North American Primate Sanctuary Association web site details.
About 25% of the needed funding has already been raised, the North American Primate Sanctuary Association web site mentions, meaning that about $4.35 million still must be found somewhere.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, as Wildlife Waystation was before becoming a sanctuary, “a small group of dedicated caregivers has continued to provide the chimpanzees with care while we work urgently to secure new homes within trusted sanctuaries. The Waystation continues to pay the caregivers’ salaries, but such funding is limited,” the North American Primate Sanctuary Association web site explains.
“The Waystation is not a safe or healthy environment”
Even if the Wildlife Waystation property had not been sold, “The Waystation is not a safe or healthy environment for these chimpanzees for many reasons,” the web site continued, “including the constant risk of wildfire, outdated infrastructure, and an insufficient water source that requires water be trucked in every month.”
That was not the only headache for Fleury in her ongoing struggle to rehome the Wildlife Waystation chimps.
“For a short while,” Fleury recalled to ANIMALS 24-7, “there was a campaign led by some ill-informed folks to keep the chimps at the Waystation and have a group of supposed investors sink money into making the Waystation a proper place for animals to live out their lives.
“They were operating under quite a few inaccurate assumptions,” Fleury said, “one of which is that it’s possible for the chimpanzees to stay on site at the Waystation. It is not. The attorney general got involved, as this group had misleading fake websites and social media accounts up to fundraise for their supposed Waystation project. Some of the sites have since been taken down.”
“A guy in a house with pet baby monkeys”
The project ringleader, Fleury told ANIMALS 24-7 “is a guy in a house in Tennessee with pet baby monkeys purchased from breeders––and recently online they were exposed as having stolen photos from an Australian zoo of a marmoset, claiming the marmoset was a pet they were trying to rescue. Nobody involved in their plans had any chimpanzee experience whatsoever.
“The group was even caught trespassing on the Waystation land and illegally filming the [June 25, 2021] chimp transport via drone, frightening the chimps.
“Despite the lofty plans and paid placements of press releases from these people, there was never any evidence that any of their claims were attainable,” Fleury said. “They never attempted to buy the land, and even if they did buy the land, it doesn’t come with the chimps.”
“Network of partnerships”?
The group in question on July 3, 2021 distributed a media release headlined “Venture Capital Group Teams Up With Non-Profit Organization To Purchase LA’s Wildlife Waystation.”
The media release asserted that “SPARTN of Tennessee and Sectre Holdings, LLC have teamed up to purchase and re-launch” Wildlife Waystation, adding that “the group is currently engaged in 6 additional property purchase deals in-state, out-of-state and international, ranging from California to Nashville to Brazil to Africa, all via its sanctuary network partnerships.”
“Together,” the apparently delusionary media release continued, “Sectre Holdings and SPARTN are made up of an internal network of partnerships with highly successful companies/individuals with robust track records in various market/industry spaces and capacities over the past 20 years including animal rescue/rehabilitation, government contract procurement, finance/banking, and social media/influencer marketing and sales to name a few.”
The name game
Four individuals were named in connection with the purported project: Martine Collette, with whom the group claimed to have made the deal to buy the property; chimpanzee anthropologist Jane Goodall, whose photo appeared with a quote, but who was not actually said to be involved; a Michael Robinson who was identified as “Director of SPARTN Charity”; and Terry Warren of Global Communications Now, distributor of the media release.
“I have personally confirmed that Jane Goodall is not working with these people,” Fleury told ANIMALS 24-7. “She is supportive of our campaign, and just last week we released a video of support from her to back this up. You can see it on chimpsinneed.org.”
“Weapon to Defeat the Devil”
The name “Michael Robinson” might also have lent credibility to the scheme, if one did not look twice at the grandiose claims the media release made.
The best-known Michael Robinson involved in wildlife rescue and conservation was a tropical biologist who directed the National Zoo in Washington D.C. for the Smithsonian Institution from 1984 to 2000. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 79 in 2008.
Also prominent in a related field is Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona. But that Michael Robinson likewise appears to have had nothing whatever to do with a scheme to resurrect Wildlife Waystation.
Terry Warren of Global Communications Now, meanwhile, also known as Terry Dean Warren, age 69, of Beaumont, California, has circulated quite a few other flamboyant claims in recent years, including announcing himself as recipient of awards which seem to have no other evidence of existence, and promoting his own self-published books, From Rejection to Redemption and One Body: God’s Desire for the Church is Unity! The Greatest Weapon The Church has to Defeat the Devil.
The already strange story that “SPARTN of Tennessee and Sectre Holdings, LLC have teamed up to purchase and re-launch” Wildlife Waystation became even stranger when, about 24 hours after ANIMALS 24-7 first posted about it, we were informed that the individual identified in the Global Communications Now media release as “Michael Robinson” is actually one Michael Robison.
Recently styling himself as “founder of SPARTN Monkey Rescue,” Robison on August 25, 2021 posted to Facebook a video clip seeking “party, classroom or event” gigs “in the Nashville/Franklin area” featuring “monkeys, squirrels, arachnids, and more.”
SPARTN appears to stand for “Small Primate Animal Rescue Tennessee,” an entity which does not appear to have nonprofit status and has not filed an IRS Form 990.
An energetic self-promoter, Robison claims to be “a former senior pastor and faith leader,” who eventually came out as gay; a “veteran strategic consultant and brand development innovator with a diverse background in finance, sales, development, marketing, communications and staffing”; and to “have served as a CEO, tech startup founder, and non-profit executive director.”
Robison was the only identifiable source behind a June 24, 2021 web posting alleging that “Following a pressure campaign from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), the California Fish & Wildlife are ripping six elderly chimps away from the troop that they have spent the last 25 years with.”
The posting went on to invert practically all of the well-documented realities of the Wildlife Waystation closure and multi-year chimpanzee relocation effort.
Like the Global Communications Now media release, the posting alleged that “The sanctuary is being purchased by Sectre Holdings and SPARTN.”
A “Sectre Holdings LLC” was formed in May 2020 by a Donovan Blaine McManus who claims to be a film and record producer, but––like Robison––seems to be more involved in self-promotion than in verifiable substantive accomplishment .