Wednesday, October 09, 2002

If only their mothers had legal standing to seek custody of the babies who were stolen from them...

CUSTODY FIGHT OVER 2 YOUNG CHIMPANZEES

Training of Lowell Spinners chimps prompts suit
By KATE MUNRO Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA — Arthur and Phoenix, two chimpanzees living at the Greenville Wildlife Park, are the center of a custody battle and a lawsuit filed at Hillsborough County Superior Court last week.

Diamond Action, Inc., of Lowell, Mass., the owner of the Class A Lowell Spinners baseball team, is suing the Greenville Wildlife Park for custody of the two chimps, a male and a female, who are each a little over 2 years old.

Diamond’s president, Drew Weber, wants immediate custody of the two chimps, but Judge William J. Groff denied a motion to turn them over immediately. The judge will hear arguments on the case tomorrow.

According to court documents, Weber owns the chimps, having paid $67,500 for them from a company in New Mexico. He turned over their care to Glenford Eldridge, of Blanch Farm Road, Greenville, one of the owners of Greenville Wildlife Park. The two made a “verbal agreement” that Eldridge would train the chimps to do tricks at the Spinners games and he would keep half the proceeds from the chimps’ performances.

In the complaint, Weber claims that the chimps are not being well cared for and are not being trained.

Weber alleges that the chimps spend all their time indoors with little or no human contact; they lack water in their cages; their apartment is infested with flies; and that Arthur has had three respiratory infections and is overweight while Phoenix, the female chimp, is underweight. Phoenix weighs 29 pounds while Arthur weighs 55 pounds, according to depositions submitted to the court....