Victory! Six chimpanzees are finally safe in a true sanctuary after years of deprivation at the Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF)—a former breeding compound that sold chimpanzees into the entertainment industry and exotic-pet trade. Thanks to PETA’s lawsuit, the facility is now closed and the rescued chimpanzees will never again be exploited in any way.
Originally posted on November 28, 2016:
The grandiosely named Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF) is actually the filthy home of a woman named Connie Braun Casey. Chimpanzees are kept in cages in the house and basement and in an addition built onto her home. Other species of primates are kept in corncribs on the property. Many of the chimpanzees were bred at MPF and used in the entertainment industry. Some were kept as “pets.”
Two chimpanzees are kept in what appears to be a converted bedroom. They have no direct access to the outdoors.
The other chimpanzees are kept in the basement and another prison-like addition to the home. Most of the chimpanzees don’t have free access to the outdoors and none of the cages provides any meaningful opportunity to climb or exercise. None of the chimpanzees is allowed outdoors in the winter.
PETA and a long-time volunteer at the facility have sent notice of their intent to sue—a legal prerequisite to a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—alleging that keeping chimpanzees in isolation; confining them to cramped, barren enclosures; and denying many of them the ability to engage in natural behavior violates the ESA. We have also appealed to Casey to retire the chimpanzees to accredited sanctuaries where they would be able to experience a more natural life.
Cockroaches and Biting Flies
Conditions at MPF are dire. The chimpanzees regularly live amid trash and their own waste. An eyewitness reports that MPF is crawling with cockroaches and horseflies. The stench of urine in one room was so overwhelming that the volunteer couldn’t enter, and when Casey exited, she was coughing. Nine large dogs who also live on the property agitate the chimpanzees by barking and lunging at them. All of the chimpanzees are missing hair, likely from pulling it out in response to the stress of their living conditions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has repeatedly cited and issued an official warning to MPF for failing to clean enclosures and allowing waste to build up and create a harmful ammonia stench. MPF has also been cited for failing to provide for the chimpanzees’ psychological and physical well-being by offering adequate environmental enrichment.
Reportedly, MPF does not have any employees, and the daily care of these endangered animals falls to Casey, whose funds are severely limited, and a few inadequately trained and relatively inexperienced volunteers. The chimpanzees reportedly receive only minimal veterinary care, even when health issues are urgent.
MPF has bred chimpanzees to sell for profit and apparently takes no steps to prevent chimpanzees from breeding. In 2009, Casey told a reporter that she had sold “about 15 to 20” chimpanzees.
Travis, the chimpanzee who, in 2009, ripped off the face and hands of a Connecticut woman, was born at MPF and later sold by Casey as a “pet.”
Connor was only about 10 years old when he reportedly snapped while being used in photo ops for Hallmark cards. He bit Mike Casey (Connie’s ex-husband and former business partner), threw tables around the room, and tried to attack three other people. Mike Casey had reportedly been physically and verbally abusive with the chimpanzees, including Connor. Hallmark greeting cards featuring Connor’s image are still being sold in stores today.
Saved From Heartbreak ‘Hotel’
Lisa Marie was born at MPF, taken from her mother and shipped to an Elvis impersonator in Chicago when she was barely a month old. She was used in the performer’s shows and taken to schools, parks, and nursing homes. When Lisa Marie wasn’t being hauled around—she was once taken to a promotional event in a solid Rubbermaid-type bin—she was often relegated to a tiny cage in a cramped basement and forced to wear a collar with a padlock on it. In 2009, Lisa Marie Presley wrote to the chimpanzee’s owners and urged them to let the suffering animal retire to a reputable sanctuary. They never responded.
In 2015, thanks to a generous PETA patron, Lisa Marie was finally rescued and transferred to the lush, spacious Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. Today, she is thriving in a large chimpanzee family.
There’s Nothing Entertaining About Speciesism—Stand Up for Chimpanzees
Companies that depict highly intelligent chimpanzees as clownish or silly harm legitimate efforts to protect this endangered species. Hallmark still sells greeting cards featuring demeaning images of chimpanzees like Connor. Help PETA send the company a wakeup call: