Monkey Cannibals: Robert Conyers Charged With Animal Cruelty UPDATE

Categories: Crime
L.A. City Attorney's Office
Isn't this how 28 Days Later begins?
Miami freight shipper Robert Matson Conyers was charged with animal cruelty yesterday after a tri-continental shipment of monkeys turned into a cannibalistic simian catastrophe.

Guyanese animal supplier Akhtar Hussain hired Conyers to help ship 25 monkeys -- 14 marmosets, five white-fronted capuchins, and six squirrel monkeys -- to a buyer in Thailand in 2008. In theory, the whole deal was legal. But when customs officials in L.A. opened the crates, they found the primates had gone all Donner Party on one another.

Conyers shipped the animals from Miami to L.A., where they were then shipped to Guangzhou, China. But Chinese officials sent the monkey crates back to California because of documentation problems.

What do you get when you put dozens of wild animals in small crates with little or no food or water for days on end? Well, death and destruction.

Customs officials in L.A. discovered that 15 of the monkeys had died en route. The ten survivors had resorted to eating their crate mates in order to stay alive.

L.A. prosecutors have charged both Conyers and Hussain with ten counts of animal cruelty for the botched shipment, but Hussain remains at large in South America. Each defendant could face up to five years in jail and a fine of $200,000.

Conyers turned himself in to L.A. authorities Wednesday. But the Tamiami resident tells Riptide that the case against him is laughable. He says it was L.A.-based company MC Cargo that shipped the monkeys to China, not him, and the real culprit in the monkey mishap is China Southern Airlines.

"They are the ones who left them on the tarmac for two and a half days without food or water," Conyers contests. He says L.A. prosecutors tried to cut a deal with him to plead guilty to one count of animal cruelty and donate money to the ASPCA, but he refused.

Conyers says he intends to sue Erin Dean, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent in L.A., over the ordeal. He claims she pressured him to pay $15,000 to treat the surviving animals. When he refused, she took the case to prosecutors.

"It's really bothering me," he says, fearing the case will hurt his shipping business.

One capuchin was euthanized by L.A. Zoo veterinarians. The nine remaining primates are recuperating at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park.

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Anyone who puts an animal in a crate and sends it away IS RESPONSIBLE for that animals welfare. NOT supplying basic needs is unforgivable and is animal cruelty. It is not good enough to say that someone else should have looked after them!

Dominic Greco
Dominic Greco

R Conyers. 

I guess you have to care for animals initially. But if you refused to ship animals under any circumstances you wouldn't be in this mess. Quit trying to pass the buck. 

You along with anyone else that was involved in this horrible situation should be punished. Hopefully this will force others to decide not to do this in the future. 

Go into a different line of business. 


Oops, sorry, I thought this was about liberty city.


I nominate you for Moron of The Week. Fish and Wildlife in Miami examined and cleared the shipment- all animals in good health. The facts are wrong- I was hired to transfer the animals to LA- which I did- in bond- in US Customs Custody. California has no jurisdiction- MC Cargo  in California and China Southern airlines failed to care for the animals while they had them.  You guys should really do a little investigation.  


D Greco,Take sententious opinions and shove them where the sun doesn't shine. You don't know squat about squat- did you know they were going to a zoological breeding facility- ( I dare say "NO" ). Zoos and breeders will always move animals- and believe it or not- people move their pets! The laws and rules are set up with the animals best interest as the primary focus. When people break the law- they should be punished. So why are they coming after me? The authorities ( US Fish and Wildlife ) in Miami inspected these animals when they left Miami- and they were healthy, provided with food and water- and in acceptable housing for their journey. The airline in California- not the one I used in Miami- the handlers in California- not myself- admit to not feeding or watering these animals ( which they are LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO DO ) - but neither of them is charged- even though they confessed???????If I go by what you are saying- I should just let people rely on the airlines to move their pets- I don't think the airlines have shown in this case- they do a very good job.

Use some critical thinking and investigate the situation before you open your mouth. Jump right into the real world any time -

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