The state has yet to fulfill a pledge it made 10 days ago to the High Court of Justice to immediately transfer funding to the Mazor Monkey Farm to care for the 1,250 macaque monkeys still at the facility.
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Shmurat Hakofim, the public benefit company that runs the Mazor Farm, said it would continue to care for the animals but it had no money to pay employees and food had almost run out. The company said the state had told the court a week ago Sunday that “within a few days” it would provide the company with 184,000 shekels ($50,380) to cover the care for the animals for three months.
However, the Environmental Protection Ministry said it had the money ready, but Shmurat Hakofim was unable to accept it because it does not have an active bank account and lacked required income tax forms.
Shmurat Hakofim’s founder, Amos Ron, told Haaretz that state officials told him a few days ago the money would be transferred only after employees and suppliers were paid.
Ron told the High Court his company would “never abandon the Mazor monkeys,” but added that “without the state money, all or in part, the Mazor monkeys have no chance of surviving” even if the company raises donations and uses volunteers. The High Court is to hear a petition on Wednesday by animal welfare groups demanding that the state take responsibility for the monkeys.
The Environmental Protection Ministry said that although Shmurat Hakofim lacked the proper forms, the ministry was working to transfer the money by other means. “Unfortunately, the fact that the organization has no bank account was concealed from us and from the court the entire time the case was being heard in the High Court and during negotiations between the organization and the ministry. Only when the money was ready for transfer did the company divulge this fact to the ministry, and this led to an unnecessary delay in the scheduled transfer of the funds, and misled the court and the ministry. ”
The environmental protection and finance ministries told the court 10 days ago they were working to transfer the funds to Shmurat Hakofim, even though the company was responsible for the animals. The state said that, with the consent of the attorney general, it had expedited a tender “for the distribution of funds for public entities dealing with urgent care for monkeys whose survival is in danger,” which would allow the state to transfer another 4.4 million shekels to Shmurat Hakofim if it met the criteria. However, Shmurat Hakofim failed to meet three of the seven basic criteria set by the Environmental Protection Ministry, the ministry said.
“The state’s acrobatic tricks to tailor criteria for support precisely to Shmurat Hakofim, have failed utterly,” attorney Jacob Kashdi, representing the animal welfare groups wrote the High Court, adding: “it is amazing that the state could stoop so low only to shirk its responsibility. We are at the start of a horrible humanitarian disaster.”
Mazor was founded over 20 years ago in central Israel to breed monkeys as an export product, for medical experimentation abroad. However, after years of protest by animal-rights groups, the state ultimately shut it down.
Under Israeli law, monkeys born in captivity may be sold for medical experimentation: The state thus sent the macaques born at Mazor to zoos in Israel, chiefly the Ben Shemen monkey farm. Another 1,250 macaques that had been captured in the wild, and could therefore not be sold for experimentation, are the ones remaining at Mazor.