Chimp Center troubles continue; materials stolen
Heather Taylor
3/28/06

http://www.thelantern.com/media/paper333/news/2006/03/28/Campus/Chimp.Center.Troubles.Continue.Materials.Stolen-1751348.shtml?norewrite200603281131&sourcedomain=www.thelantern.com&mkey=1398204 

Tensions at the Ohio State Chimp Center have not cooled down, despite the fact the center is closed.

Dr. Sally Boysen, professor of psychology and former director of the Chimp Center, filed a police report at the Chimp Center on March 18, stating "unknown persons removed property from Lab Animal Building No. 3 that belongs to her research project." According to the report, Boysen showed the reporting officer the moving truck she brought to move her belongings, but the research material was missing. She said that several cabinets and lockers that housed material from her research project were gone.

In the police report, Blake Harrison, operations manager of University Laboratory Animal Research, said his department had brought people in to clean the building because it was infested with roaches. Harrison said one of the cabinets containing old clothing, some shoes and broken coloring materials was thrown away because it was full of roaches. He also said the cleanup crew was under his supervision at all times.

"When I got in the Chimp Center, I found pretty much everything was gone; they threw all our research materials out, our power tools were missing, everything was gone," Boysen said.

The materials Boysen said are missing include research stimuli, a scale model she said 10 years of research went into, a circular saw, a coffee maker and a computer scanner. Harrison's statement to the police said he was the only person to enter the tool closet and the coffee maker was still in the kitchen when they left. In the report, Harrison did not mention the scanner or research material.

On Feb. 27, the chimps were transported to Primarily Primates, a private chimp sanctuary in San Antonio, Texas. Amid accusations of substandard care at Primarily Primates, Boysen drew national attention to the issue when she chained herself to the Chimp Center's gate after the university began the process of moving the chimps. When the chimps arrived at Primarily Primates, Kermit - the oldest chimpanzee - died from suffocation, according to initial speculative reports.

Rick Amweg, assistant chief of University Police, said they are pursuing this report just like any other criminal activity and they are working on the indicators of whether or not the property was stolen.

"We've accounted for some of the property," Amweg said. "I don't know for sure what all the property is but it's not a closed case; some of the information is not public knowledge."

Amweg said some miscellaneous items, such as crayons and art supplies, had been thrown away but nothing of value was discarded.

Earle Holland, OSU media spokesman, said the report is filed as an administrative report rather than criminal because it is unclear whether a crime occurred. Holland said ULAR started the cleaning process of the lab after the chimps were moved, but the only thing done in Boysen's office was cleaning a cat box to prevent drawing vermin.

"Those facilities are messy in their own right and it's appropriate for us to clean up after the animals left. That's appropriate in any facility, you clean after the animals leave," he said.

Boysen has requested compensation from the university for the missing items and said the cost is not the real issue, but it was the "last straw" for her. She also disputes Harrison's claim that the temporary staff was under supervision at all times.

Holland provided The Lantern with a copy of an e-mail in which Boysen wrote she had moved a rental truck loaded with "office equipment, chairs, supplies, etc.," the weekend prior to March 21.

Holland said there had been about half a dozen computers, desks and other university equipment located at the Chimp Center prior to the weekend.

"It's my understanding that the equipment is no longer there," Holland said.

Boysen denied having anything to do with missing university equipment.

"I had an empty truck when the officer arrived - everything was gone," she said. "They had unsupervised workers and I don't know if they threw it out or stole it. Why would we make that up? It's trivial."