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PETA Says OSU Chimpanzee Transfer "Illegal"

Representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were in Columbus today to meet with Ohio State officials. The animal rights group wants the university to reclaim former research chimpanzees that were sent to an animal sanctuary in Texas. PETA says Texas law nullifies a contract between OSU and the Primarily Primates refuge.

Before meeting with university attorneys, two PETA staffers narrated a brief videotape for reporters. Lisa Wathne says the footage was gathered seven months ago during a visit to the refuge that now houses eight former Ohio State research chimpanzees.

"The facility is in an extreme state of disrepair so it's difficult if not impossible to clean adequately in many of the enclosures," Wathne says.

Only interior footage was shown, with primates rattling the doors of dirty cages. Wathne says a disgruntled worker invited PETA to the facility.

"The animals are forced to spend a lot of time in their indoor quarters due to cold or even in the summer, they are not provided adequate shade, so they have to come in to get away from the sun," says Wathne.

The claims are at odds with those from Ohio State officials who say the university conducted a thorough and lengthy search to find an appropriate sanctuary. Far from being the "hellhole" that PETA describes, an OSU spokesman has a collection of exterior photos of huge and elaborate open-air cages among trees and shrubs.

PETA said today that Texas law prohibits the transfer of a dangerous wild animal to a person who does not have a certificate of registration for the animal. One of the nine Ohio State chimpanzees died of a heart attack just after his arrival in Texas. Wathne says OSU should immediately reclaim the others and place them in a better facility.

"Ohio State University has stated very clearly that they want to do what is best for these chimpanzees. This is their opportunity to prove that they really mean that. They have the power and the resources to get these animals to an appropriate place. They need to step up to the plate and do that," Wathne says.

An OSU spokesman declined to comment on tape, but in a written statement Earle Holland said PETA's claims would be investigated.