MONKEY BUSINESS: FDA gives Gainesville sanctuary research monkeys

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The newest additions to the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville.

The monkeys were once involved in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration study.

That study intended to investigate the role of various levels of nicotine in teens and young adults.

“They were in a really sterile environment in a lab,” says Kari Bagnall, Founder of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary.

Four monkeys died in the experiments, raising criticism from several animal rights groups that eventually brought an end to the study.

Now, they are the first monkeys to be released by the FDA.

“It’s not uncommon that we get monkeys from laboratory research, in fact, most of our monkeys come from laboratory research,” says Bagnall.

These monkeys have never been outside -- which makes acclimating them to nature the biggest challenge.

“We call it ‘bringing the outside in,’” says Bagnall. “We go get banana leaves and bamboo stocks and different things that they are going to encounter and see how they react to it.”

Some of them were nervous with seeing a big green leaf on their cage, but others, wasted no time to see what it was.

“They have lived this very sheltered life inside, and then to watch them react to rain or wind, they don’t know what it is,” says Bagnall.

The FDA has provided lifetime funding to the sanctuary for these monkeys.

And the sanctuary plans on releasing them into their new habitats in the spring.

“It’s why we do this, because we get to see them turn into monkeys,” says Bagnall.

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