Chimpanzees Removed From Ohio Roadside Zoo After Push From PETA

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Four chimpanzees—April, Anna, Lucy, and Cash—were rescued last week from Union Ridge Wildlife Center in Wilkesville, Ohio, a facility formerly operated by notorious animal exploiter and convicted felon Cyril Vierstra (aka “CY”). Officials from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) worked with Save the Chimps, a sanctuary in Florida accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, to rescue the animals. Their rescue follows PETA’s formal complaints to both the ODA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and we’ve also assisted with funding the chimpanzees’ sanctuary care.

It’s a happy new chapter for these four chimpanzees, who will have a great life, with lush grounds to explore and the opportunity to socialize with others of their kind.

We are pleased to announce the addition of four very sweet chimpanzees to our Save the Chimps family. Please join us in…

Posted by Save the Chimps, Inc. on Friday, April 14, 2023

Previously, PETA called on the ODA to investigate Union Ridge’s failure to notify the agency of the possession of a chimpanzee named Tonka—who was part of a PETA federal Endangered Species Act lawsuit—and the failure to obtain and submit the legally required import permit and health certificates for him. Vierstra admitted to PETA that he kept Tonka—who appeared alongside actor Alan Cumming in the film Buddy—from July 2021 to February 2022, after his former owner falsely claimed that the chimpanzee had died and instead brought him to Union Ridge in violation of a federal court order requiring that Tonka be sent to an accredited sanctuary. PETA was able to locate him and arranged for his transfer to Save the Chimps, where he’s reportedly thriving.

PETA is following up with the USDA on our complaint urging the agency to take action against Union Ridge, whose operator pleaded guilty last year to multiple felonies related to his theft of $287,565.11 in public funds.

To date, we have facilitated the rescues of 24 chimpanzees from the entertainment industry, the pet trade, and roadside zoos.

PETA urges everyone to steer clear of roadside zoos as if animals’ lives depended on it, because they do.

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