Feds Wallop Local Roadside Zoo After PETA Flags Monkey Escape

For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Palm Harbor, Fla. – Following a tip from PETA notifying the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that a capuchin monkey remained on the loose for 24 hours after escaping from his enclosure at Suncoast Primate “Sanctuary,” a decrepit, misleadingly named roadside zoo previously called the Chimp Farm, officials slapped Suncoast with multiple citations for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

The violations resulted in two critical citations—one for the loose capuchin and a second for the facility’s lack of an attending veterinarian to properly care for the animals—as well as citations for subjecting animals to “heavily soiled” feeding tubes; enclosures with rust, chipping paint, untethered fencing, and sharp edges of metallic piping; and dangerous “enrichment” items that were cracked and broken.

“This shoddy facility exploits wild animals who belong in nature, not inside damaged enclosures that endanger their safety and deny them everything that’s natural and important to them,” says PETA Foundation Director for Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA asks the public to steer clear of roadside zoos and urges Suncoast to release these animals to a real sanctuary that helps animals instead of exploiting them.”

The USDA had repeatedly fined the Chimp Farm before ultimately taking the extremely rare action of revoking its license in 1999—yet nine years later, the granddaughter of the original owners was inexplicably permitted to reopen the facility under its current name. In 2011, Suncoast was fined for violating the AWA after two chimpanzees escaped and one seriously injured a volunteer.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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