June 21, 2024
Monkey farm plan for research unites residents against Georgia site

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. – Most mornings, just after dawn, Penny Reynolds strolls a familiar path through the backyard of her 9-acre property, sprinkling handfuls of corn for the neighborhood deer.

The ritual, which Reynolds has upheld for more than 40 years, is one of many daily pleasures now haunted by one worry: Will it be ruined by the monkeys?

Local officials in Bainbridge, Georgia, a rural outpost 20 miles north of the Florida Panhandle, recently approved a startup’s plan to build one of the largest monkey breeding facilities in the nation. At its capacity, the $396 million complex would hold up to 30,000 monkeys – double the city’s human population.

“It’s unreal,” said Reynolds, 77, whose property line borders the site cleared for the 200-acre facility. “Our world is upside down.”

Monkey farm plan for research unites residents against Georgia site

Safer Human Medicine, the company behind the project, says the long-tailed macaques will be bred and sold to pharmaceutical companies, universities and laboratories for medical research. The company hopes to finish construction and welcome its first monkeys later this year.

Monkeys, because of their similarities to humans, have been essential to research for a wide range of diseases and infections and have led to breakthrough treatments for Parkinson’s, sickle cell disease, polio and COVID-19, according to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. But getting enough monkeys has become more difficult. Most historically came from China, which stopped the import of monkeys to the U.S. in 2020.

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