Barney’s Legacy

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on August 20, 2009

When ALDF discovered a chimpanzee named Barney in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed roadside zoo, he was languishing in solitary confinement on the cement floor of a cage. Deprived of companionship and veterinary care, he suffered from severe psychological and physical distress until he escaped from his cage and was shot and killed by a zoo employee. On behalf of Mark Jurnove, a frequent zoo visitor disturbed by the isolation and neglect that marked Barney’s daily life, ALDF sued the USDA (ALDF v. Glickman) for failing to set standards to protect primates under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

In October 1996, a U.S. District Court Judge found the USDA in violation of the AWA and ordered the agency to develop stricter standards, emphasizing the need to address the psychological well-being of primates in captivity. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey called the USDA’s failure to issue such standards "egregious." "This case involves an abject failure in the rulemaking process…to enforce the AWA," he stated.

ALDF v. Glickman was the fourth in a series of five lawsuits ALDF brought against the USDA aimed at getting the agency to do its job of providing humane standards for animals covered by the AWA. While the Court of Appeals later held that the "standards" set by the USDA were already adequate, they upheld the decision that Jurnove did have legal standing to sue to protect the interests of animals under the AWA. This decision established that animal activists have standing to sue under the Animal Welfare Act and has been cited frequently in subsequent litigation promoting humane treatment of animals.

As we celebrate ALDF’s 30th anniversary, take a moment to speak out for animals. Encourage your community to oppose the exploitation of chimpanzees on the silver screen, as so many of them are destined to grow old in stark cages. Write a letter to your local newspaper editor today!