Lawsuit Planned Over Treatment of Chimpanzees Seen on Hallmark Cards

PETA Releases New Video of Primates’ Virtually Barren Prisons—an Alleged Violation of the Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Kansas City, Mo.

PETA has sent a letter to the Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF), aka “Chimparty”—a former breeder and exhibitor of chimpanzees who have appeared on Hallmark cards and elsewhere in the entertainment industry—notifying the Missouri facility of its intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires plaintiffs to inform potential defendants of their intent at least 60 days before filing an ESA lawsuit.

A shareable new PETA video reveals that Chimpanzees currently at MPF include Conner, who was used for Hallmark greeting cards that are still on sale by the Kansas City company today—and who reportedly bit his handler and tried to attack three other people on the set of his final photo shoot. He and other chimpanzees at MPF are warehoused in filthy, virtually barren enclosures and denied adequate space in which to climb and roam. In its letter, PETA contends that these conditions—including keeping highly social primates in solitary confinement, which applies to at least one chimpanzee’s case—all constitute unlawful “takes” (i.e., the chimpanzees are harmed and/or harassed) in violation of the ESA.

“For decades, this despicable outfit was ground zero for chimpanzees who were bred and sold as props and pets,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA’s lawsuit seeks to give these chimpanzees the opportunity to socialize, climb, roam, play, and finally live like the intelligent, curious beings they are.”

MPF also bred and sold Travis the chimpanzee, who was kept as a “pet”—and was infamously shot and killed after he tore off a woman’s face. And according to an eyewitness, Tammy, an approximately 32-year-old chimpanzee at the facility, used to scream and frantically search for the babies who had been taken from her. One of her daughters is believed to be Lisa Marie, who was exploited in the entertainment industry and lived as a “pet” for years before PETA secured her a place at the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida, where the two could be reunited someday.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is seeking to have the approximately 16 chimpanzees held at the facility released to accredited sanctuaries and has offered to facilitate their transfer at no cost to MPF.

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