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Amerijet Says It Will Stop Shipping Monkeys

Amerijet, the Fort Lauderdale-based cargo shipping company, will cease transporting primates, according to a letter printed on Amerijet letterhead, addressed to the president of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. For months, local animal rights activists have targeted the company, writing letters, calling the company, and protesting both the Fort Lauderdale offices and the homes of several company executives.

The company had stood firm in their position. Just last month, Amerijet CEO David Bassett wrote a letter explaining why the company would not stop shipping primates.

Today, ARFF received a one-sentence letter from Bassett, addressed to Nanci Alexander (who also owns Sublime, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale).

The letter, apparently signed by Bassett, states:

"This letter on behalf of Amerijet International, Inc. is intended to confirm that, as stated on our website, Amerijet has ceased transporting primates for any and all purposes."

The company has not confirmed that the letter is authentic, nor is there proof yet that the primate shipping has, in fact, ceased, but Amerijet's web site has been updated to include the statement: "Amerijet does not ship primates."

Local activists are claiming victory and celebrating. "We're delighted that Amerijet has decided to end this cruel practice," said Don Anthony, ARFF communications director. He said he didn't want to speculate about the company's reasons for changing policy, but he pointed out that Amerijet was one of the few airlines that continued to transport primates for research purposes. He added, "Maybe they wanted to join the large number of other airlines and companies who've decided that this is not how they want to do business."

The group, South Florida Smash HLS, which organized most of the demonstrations against Amerijet, recently encouraged supporters to send a number of Valentine's to Bassett, and to email and call his wife.

Protesters have long claimed that if Ameriet stopped shipping monkeys, research facilities like the South Florida-based Primate Products would not be able to import animals.

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Michael J. Mooney

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