DeYoung Family Zoo Slapped With Notice of Intent to Sue Over Treatment of Chimpanzees

Actor Andy Serkis Narrates New PETA Video as Group Argues That Keeping Social Primates in Isolation Violates Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
November 16, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wallace, Mich. – Last week, PETA sent an official notice to the DeYoung Family Zoo—a notorious roadside zoo where two chimpanzees, Louie and Tommy, are apparently being kept in isolation—warning the facility of its intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires plaintiffs to inform potential defendants at least 60 days prior to legal action.

In its letter, PETA contends that denying highly social primates the ability to lead active, stimulating lives and engage in species-specific behavior—as well as allowing visitors to yell and gawk at Louie—all constitute violations of the ESA, which makes it unlawful for chimpanzees to be harmed or harassed.

To call attention to the plight of these chimpanzees, actor Andy Serkis—known for his performances as great-ape characters in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and King Kong—narrates a new PETA video that tells the story of Louie, who has lived in isolation at the roadside zoo for nearly all his young life.

In an exclusive interview with PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—Serkis reveals what made him take on the role of Louie: “I’ve obviously over the years become very connected to stories and the lives of the great apes in our world, and this story really blew my mind,” he says. “The fact [is] that here we have a chimpanzee shipped to a small family zoo, where he’s now kept in a cage, completely isolated, unable to socialize, living a very lonely and miserable existence, and it just broke my heart. It’s the same as treating a human being [that] way—it really is.”

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind