Coulston Foundation Shuts Down

Faced by enormous financial problems, the Coulston Foundation shut down in September. The 266 primates under the foundation’s care will be transferred to the Florida-based non-profit Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care.

At its height in the 1990s, the Coulston Foundation had over 600 primates and more than 100 employees engaged in various research projects.

The Coulston Foundation had faced protests, opposition and acts of terrorism from animal rights activists over the years. It also had a spotty record for ensuring the welfare of its animals, being formally charged four times by the USDA for violating the Animal Welfare Act. The Coulston Foundation’s fate was sealed when the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the US Department of Agriculture all withdrew their financial support .

The Foundation then fell behind on its debt payments and the First National Bank of Alamogordo filed foreclosure papers on the Foundation in December 2001. Foundation CEO Fred Coulston tried but failed to find a buyer for the laboratory and agreed to transfer the primates to the CCCC, which received a $3.7 million grant from the Arcus Foundation to purchase the Coulston Foundation’s buildings and equipment.


More than 300 research chimps and monkeys retired, turned over to preserve. Richard Benke, Associated Press, September 18, 2002.

Coulston lab shuttered; monkeys get new caretakers. New Mexico Business Weekly, September 18, 2002.

Foreclosure Proceedings Against the Coulston Foundation Begin

The First National Bank in Alamogordo, New Mexico filed papers this month to foreclose on the Coulston Foundation. The Coulston Foundation is a biomedical firm that conducts research with non-human primates. It has been targeted for years by animal rights activists, and shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Animal Liberation Front Activists fire bombed a Coulston building causing an estimated $1 million in damage.

The First National Bank claims the foundation has an outstanding principal of more than $400,000 on a $1 million loan the foundation obtained in 1997, a mortgage dating back to 1989 which has been modified at least 5 times, and a $50,598 loan obtained in 1998. In addition the First National Bank claims Coulston has obtained other loans which remain unpaid.

The bank is claiming that Coulston has defaulted on its various loans and wants the court to appoint a special master to foreclose on the foundation and sell the property owned by the company to repay the loan.

In Defense of Animals was touting this as the final nail in the coffin for Coulston as a viable business, and so far representatives of the Coulston Foundation have been unwilling to talk about First National Bank’s filing.


Bank files for foreclosure of Coulston Foundation. Michael Shinabery, Alamogordo Daily News (New Mexico), January 7, 2002.

Coulston Facility Bombed

I haven’t seen any other reports of this, which is surprising given the current fear over terrorism, but a CBS affiliate in Alamogordo, New Mexico, reports that a bomb went off at a primate lab owned by the Coulston Foundation in the early morning hours of September 20.

Station KRQE quoted Coulston spokesman Don McKinney as saying the bomb went off around 4:15 a.m. on September 20 at the facility. No animals were kept at the facility, and no one was injured, but the device did an estimated $1 million in damages.

KRQE reported that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms along with the FBI are investigating.


Bomb Goes Off At Primate Lab. KRQE News 13, September 20, 2001.

Primate Freedom Tour

The Primate Freedom Tour is
rolling through the United States, spreading misinformation about medical
research involving primates and generating a fair amount of controversy
even within the animal rights movement.

The tour travels across the
United States stopping at primate research facilities long enough to protest
and grab a bit of media attention. In large measure, however, the tour
has backfired on its sponsors due to the tactics they have adopted.

Along with the typical animal
rights tactics — one protester locked himself in a cage for three days
outside of a Coulston facility — members of the Primate Freedom Tour
have protested outside the homes of researchers working at primate facilities
and released the home addresses of their targets in press releases. In
several cases police have come close to arresting primate tour members
and a University of California of Davis researcher was arrested recently
for allegedly assaulting protesters outside his home.

Such tactics have garnered
the tour a wave of negative publicity, helped out by press releases form
the tour itself that emphasize the group’s militant stand and tactics.
By July 1, Suzanne Roy and Eric Kleiman, program director and research
director respectively at In Defense of Animals, had enough and issued
a “Personal statement against certain tactics of Primate Freedom Tour”
attacking the militant tactics which, Roy and Kleiman correctly perceive,
only work against the animal rights movement.

As Roy and Kleiman write,

A number of years ago, the A[merican] M[edical] A[ssociation]
developed an action plan for neutralizing the animal rights movement.
Its strategy was to portray animal rights advocates as extremists and
terrorists … We believe the Tour is certainly making the jobs of A[mericans
for] M[edical] P[rogress] and other similar groups easier. Their attempts
to portray all animal advocates as extremist fanatics, engaged in a terroristic
‘jihad’ that must be constrained by the police … are certainly being facilitated
by the Tour’s organizers.

Roy and Kleiman are certainly
right about the ethics and media effect of home protests, but their own
statement itself belies the claim that animal rights activists are being
falsely painted as extremists and terrorists by the AMP and AMA. The fact
is that most animal rights activists and organizations are extremists
as evidenced by the fact that Roy and Kleiman had to release their comments
as a “personal statement” and make very explicit that their views don’t
reflect that of In Defense of Animals, which is one of the sponsors of
the Primate Freedom Tour. Since the Tour began, Roy and Kleiman are the
only two individuals to my knowledge to issue such a statement and no
animal rights organization has come out with any statement containing
anything but praise for the Primate Freedom Tour.

This silence is deafening
and yet Roy and Kleiman would have us believe that the extremists who
would protest at a researchers home represent a small minority of animal
rights activists and the rest of the movement is unfairly associated with
this tiny fringe of the movement. Please, give it a rest already. This
is as believable as the constant refrain that the Animal Liberation Front‘s
acts of destruction don’t represent the animal rights movement, even though
all but a handful of animal rights groups refuse to condemn such actions
and most express their sympathy with the terrorists.