Mobile Zoo Sued Over Neglect of Endangered Chimpanzee

Solitary Ape Joe Held in Virtually Barren Prison for 17 Years

For Immediate Release:
January 20, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Mobile, Ala. – PETA and concerned citizens have filed a lawsuit against the Wilmer-based Mobile Zoo alleging that its treatment of the chimpanzee Joe—who is isolated in a tiny, decrepit enclosure and has been harassed by visitors—violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA). PETA contends that displaying Joe—a member of a highly social species—by himself in a virtually barren enclosure consisting of a packed dirt floor and a chain-link fence constitutes an unlawful “take” (that is, he’s being harmed or harassed) in violation of the ESA.

“The Mobile Zoo must stop subjecting this endangered chimpanzee to miserable isolation in a dirt pen,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “It’s time for Joe to be retired to an accredited sanctuary, where he will receive the care that he desperately needs and the opportunity to socialize with other chimpanzees.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is filing the lawsuit after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently eliminated a loophole that excluded captive chimpanzees from the protection of the ESA. The Mobile Zoo also faces a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for numerous alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including for failing to clean Joe’s enclosure adequately, confining him to an enclosure infested with flies, and failing to address his social and psychological needs.

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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