Earlier this year, members of South Florida Smash HLS learned that Fort Lauderdale-based Landmark Bank had made a $4 million loan to the founder of Worldwide Primates, one of several controversial local primate importers that have drawn scrutiny from animal rights groups in recent years.
In hopes of convincing the bank to sever its ties to the company, Smash HLS is now leading a boycott and encouraging its supporters to contact CEO Perry LaCaria and other top executives to let them know they won’t be patronizing a bank that finances animal testing.
“Worldwide Primates has managed to profit off animal torture since 1980, so it may seem invincible at a glance, but there’s real hope for shutting it down,” activist Kyle Krakow says. “It takes a delicate combination of buyers, transporters, service providers, investors, and sustained morale for companies like Worldwide Primate to keep afloat. By applying pressure to any one of these, the results can be huge.”
This is just the latest battle in the ongoing war between activists and Worldwide Primates. which describes itself as “a leading supplier of premium quality non-human primate models for government, university, and pharmaceutical level facilities.” Its founder, Matthew Block, is best known for pleading guilty to participating in an animal smuggling scheme after Thai authorities discovered six critically ill, endangered orangutans bound for Russia in a crate marked “live birds.”
For years, members of Smash HLS and other animal rights activists have used aggressive tactics to call attention to the fact that Worldwide Primates — in their view — tortures animals. (Worldwide Primates, unsurprisingly, disagrees with this assessment.)
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This includes demonstrating in front of the homes of Matthew Block, a woman believed to be his girlfriend, and his 93-year-old mother. The company previously requested a restraining order against protesters, but Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake tossed it out of court. Worldwide Primates then built a gate blocking a public road that leads to the facility, which turned out to be illegal.
If the boycott is successful, it wouldn’t be the first time that Smash HLS has publicly shamed companies out of doing business with primate importers. Back in 2011, Amerijet and Monarch Air Group both agreed to meet Smash HLS’s demands and stop transporting monkeys.
“We urge Landmark to take a stand for animals and cut ties with Worldwide Primates,” Krakow says. “Until then, Perry LaCaria and his fellow executives have blood on their hands.”
Landmark Bank could not immediately be reached for comment. We’ll update this post when they do.