Missing Chimpanzee Tonka Found; PETA Plans Rescue

For Immediate Release:
June 2, 2022

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Festus, Mo. – After PETA received a recording of a recent phone call in which the owner of Tonka, the chimpanzee who went missing from the former Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF) breeding compound nearly a year ago, confessed that he was still alive but would be euthanized on June 2, PETA obtained an emergency temporary restraining order preventing Tonia Haddix from moving or euthanizing Tonka. The group is bringing in an independent veterinarian to evaluate whether Tonka is healthy enough to travel to an accredited sanctuary where he can get the expert care he needs.

A PETA lawsuit over the living conditions of all the chimpanzees at MPF—who had been warehoused in often filthy, virtually barren enclosures—resulted in a court order requiring PETA to rescue Tonka, along with six others, and arrange for their transfer to an accredited sanctuary. However, when PETA came to carry out the court’s order in July 2021, Tonka—who appeared alongside actor Alan Cumming in the film Buddy—had vanished and Haddix claimed that he had “died.”

“After months of searching, Tonka has finally been found and help is on the way,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “He has endured nearly a year of isolation and likely needs urgent care, but if all goes well, PETA will soon arrange for him to be moved to a lush sanctuary where he’ll have a chance for a real life at last.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, 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