OSU Professor Says She’ll Fight for Chimps’ Return

A psychology professor who opened Ohio State University’s primate research center 23 years ago vows to fight the university’s closing of the facility. Sally Boysen protested the closing Monday by chaining herself to an access gate. She and a group of protestors delayed for several hours the transfer of nine chimpanzees to a primate sanctuary in Texas. The action came a week after the university announced that the facility would be closed.

Officials at Ohio State announced February 21st that the chimpanzee research center would be closed. Professor Sally Boysen says the University cut off her access to the chimp facility at the same time the closing was announced.

“This overtaking of the lab occurred and all the locks were changed; my staff were deprived of their keys and simultaneously a press release went out from the University,” said Boysen.

Attorneys for Boysen asked a federal judge for a restraining order to stop the chimps’ relocation to a Texas refuge. When the request was denied the relocation proceeded. Protestor Bill Long witnessed Monday’s events.

“It was just not a pretty scene, the kind of locking her out and they have to tranquilize the animals and put them in a truck. It’s never a good ending for these things,” Long said.

But it was predictable according to Ohio State spokesman Earle Holland because of a 2002 agreement that required Boysen to raise future funding from outside sources.

“Dr. Boysen, the center director, entered into a memorandum of understanding with University officials which basically said that the University would underwrite the funding of her research program for one calendar year. During that year, despite her best efforts, she was unable to obtain funding, but the University extended that understanding for an additional year, underwriting her program again in hopes she would be able to secure that type of funding,” Holland said.

Boysen says she disagrees with that interpretation.

In the last two years, Holland says Boysen has submitted at least nine research proposals to potential funders, but none has been successful.

“We’ve been dealing with this possible scenario for at least four years. During that period of time, we’ve spent more than a $1 million if you combine the transfer and the sustenance of the program. We’ve been concerned first and foremost with the welfare of the animals. We’re sad that this had to happen but the animals are going to a place that is much better than we can offer them now,” said Holland.

The chimpanzees are now en route to the Primarily Primates refuge in Texas. But Boysen says she has a team of attorneys and will fight to bring the animals back to Columbus.

“It’s not an ending in any sense of the word. Not an ending. It’s sad. It’s very, very sad; mostly for the chimpanzees. It must be extremely stressful. They must be very frightened having been taken away in the middle of the night in dark trucks, in cages, rumbling over the roads for 24, 26 hours, whatever it takes from Columbus to San Antonio. That’s the sad part of it, but it’s not an ending by any stretch of the imagination,” Boysen said.

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