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Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

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Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Review

You may not be able to find monkeys in the wild in the Tampa Bay area (at least not naturally), but you can catch them bouncing around in their cages at this low-key facility. The alleged final home of Cheetah, the chimp who played Tarzan's sidekick for a couple of years in the 1930s, the sanctuary houses a whole slew of primates. One of the first you'll meet is Pongo, a massive Bornean orangutan; if he's in the right mood, he will greet you when you walk up. The sanctuary also hosts baboons, lemurs, spider monkeys, macaques—you name it—many of them former pets or onetime laboratory test subjects. There are also a few reptiles (you can get a picture of yourself holding a baby alligator) and a colorful array of birds. You may find the colorful plastic toys in the primate enclosures odd, but they actually serve to enhance the animals' senses. Veterans receive free admission here.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 4600 Alt. Hwy. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683
  • Phone: 727/943–5897
  • Cost: $10
  • Hours: Thu.–Sun. 10–4
  • Website:
  • Location: Clearwater
Updated: 04-04-2013

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    Horrible Reputation and History

    This sanctuary provides no chance for the primates to forage as they would do in the wild. The animals live in a prison-like environment comprised of cement and chain link fencing. No comfortable places to sleep are available. The lady who runs the organization is Debbie Cobb who has a less than honest reputation. She was referred to in legal documentation where Suncoast was denied a license to exhibit animals under the Animal Welfare Act, as "not the most forthcoming of witnesses, to say the least, and her demeanor was quite defensive throughout her testimony." Here is the link to the legal document: http://www.dm.usda.gov/oaljdecisions/060607_AWA-D_05-0002.pdf

    The sanctuary is under a different name, because "The Chimp Farm", as it was previously known by, lost its license in the 1990's after PETA said it was one of the worst roadside zoos in the country. The USDA "stripped the sanctuary of its license for public exhibitions, citing small, rusty cages used to house the apes.

    They also don't seem to take very good care of their volunteers. The woman referred to in the story linked below, was snuck out of the sanctuary after no one there called 911. The sheriff's report said "Looking at the time line, it appears Andrea (Maturen) was at the sanctuary with severe and potentially life-threatening injuries while I was outside trying to find out what happened and check on her," the deputy wrote. "She went over an hour before receiving medical treatment at (a clinic). I believe I was intentionally misled about her condition, about what happened and her location." Another instance of deception by Debbie Cobbs.
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/civil/volunteer-attacked-by-chimp-sues-suncoast-primate-sanctuary-foundation/1162582

    This assessment by Betsy Stewart illustrates how The Chimp Farm was when Debbie Cobbs grandparents ran it and it doesn't seem like much has changed: http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/swart01.htm. The most telling statement in that story was that the animals "looked like mental patients."

    by zariadawn, 9/24/13

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