Millionaire Spends Stunning Amount of Money to Save 1,400 Monkeys From Medical Experimentation

Philanthropist Ady Gil is now raising money for the animals’ long-term care in Israel.
Photo: Facebook)
Jan 8, 2015· 1 MIN READ
John R. Platt covers the environment, wildlife, and technology and for TakePart, Scientific American, Audubon, and other publications.

More than 1,400 macaque monkeys have been saved from a lifetime of potentially cruel and painful medical experiments after businessman and animal rights activist Ady Gil paid $2 million to purchase them. The move ends nearly 20 years of active protests against an Israeli breeding facility that until recently supplied the monkeys to laboratories around the world.

Gil, who lives in Los Angeles and made his fortune providing video technology services to Hollywood, first heard about Mazor Farm during his biennial visits to Israel. He said the protests against the facility have been in the headlines there for years.

“If you’re in the animal movement in Israel, you know about it,” said Gil, who has been a financial supporter of environmental group Sea Shepherd’s efforts to stop Japanese whalers.

Mazor Farm, located half an hour from Tel Aviv, was close to shutting down because of to a ban on the export of wild animals from Israel that goes into effect this month. Gil’s purchase of the animals derailed a last-minute plan to ship most of them to breeding facilities and medical labs in the United States.

Anat Refua, who led the protests against Mazor Farm for the past 16 years through her organization Behind Closed Doors, praised Gil’s action. “I am very excited to witness our success and arriving to the historical moment of shutting down the farm and pulling Israel out of the axis of evil of monkey trade for research,” she said.

Another organization, Monkey Rescue, which was set up to try to rescue the monkeys, had turned to the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to collect money to buy the Mazor animals but only raised $5,400.

Gil said the monkeys will remain in 35 two-story wood structures at Mazor Farm for a few months, where they will be fed and receive any necessary medical care by their former owners.

The next step, he said, is to move the monkeys to a sanctuary that he hopes to build in central Israel. He will travel there later this month to scout locations and possibly negotiate the purchase of the land. He is also exploring the best ways to keep the monkeys from further breeding, which may involve neutering the males.

Meanwhile, Gil is raising additional funds for the monkeys’ care through his animal rights nonprofit, Ady Gil World Conservation.

“It’s a long-term responsibility,” he said.

Gil estimates it will cost an additional $350,000 a year to feed and provide veterinary care for the monkeys. “I find it hard to believe that we’ll be able to raise $350,000 a year,” he acknowledged. “But if I can raise $100,000, then I only need to put in a quarter million from my own pocket.”

The closure of Mazor Farm doesn’t put an end to medical experimentation on animals in Israel. Refua said more than 300,000 animal experiments still take place in Israel every year, and her organization will continue to campaign against them.