For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2023
Robin Goist 202-483-7382
Parrish, Fla. – Following a push from PETA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has terminated the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license of Florida-based exotic-animal dealer Jimmy Wayne Hammonds (aka “The Monkey Whisperer”), blocking him from legally selling primates for the pet trade for at least the next year. The decision stems from Hammonds’ guilty pleas to federal charges related to the illegal sale and transport of primates—including his notorious sale of a capuchin monkey to singer Chris Brown.
PETA had submitted a complaint to the USDA pointing out that the agency had cause to terminate Hammonds’ license as his convictions include felony conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and three counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, prompting the USDA’s enforcement action.
“Exotic animals are not pets, playthings, or props for celebrities, and they’re not business transactions either,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA is celebrating the USDA’s decision to strip this felon of a license before he could exploit additional vulnerable animals.”
In 2017, PETA alerted California officials to Brown’s unlawful possession of the capuchin, which resulted in the animal’s seizure by the state and two misdemeanor charges levied against Brown. According to the search warrant affidavit, it was PETA’s complaint regarding Brown that triggered law enforcement to investigate Hammonds. The affidavit also indicates that officials believed that Hammonds had sold two spider monkeys to rapper Swae Lee. PETA also alerted California wildlife officials to Lee’s unlawful possession of these spider monkeys, which led to the seizure of at least one of them.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. A copy of PETA’s complaint to the USDA is available here. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.