Missouri Primate Foundation Faces Lawsuit Over Treatment of Chimpanzees

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

For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2016

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Festus, Mo. – PETA has sent a letter to the Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF), aka “Chimparty”—a former breeder of chimpanzees for the entertainment industry and pet trade—notifying the Festus-based 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 the 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 or harassed) in violation of the ESA.

Chimpanzees currently at MPF include Connor, who was used for Hallmark greeting cards that are still on sale today—and who reportedly bit his handler and tried to attack three other people on the set of his final photo shoot. The facility also at one point housed 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, a 32-year-old chimpanzee at MPF, 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.

“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.”

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.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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