Victory: PETA Wins Retirement for Former Hollywood Chimpanzee

Following Endangered Species Act Lawsuit, Joe Moved to Sanctuary After 17 Years in a Virtually Barren Cell at The Mobile Zoo

For Immediate Release:
April 29, 2016

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Mobile, Ala.

After more than a decade in solitary confinement in a tiny, decrepit enclosure at Alabama’s Mobile Zoo—where he was dumped by Hollywood animal trainer Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, which has provided animals for numerous projects, including CBS’ Zoo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Water for Elephants, and many others—the chimpanzee Joe has arrived at the accredited Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. For the first time in years, Joe was finally able to interact with another chimpanzee—and when meeting his new companion, a female named Geraldine, he immediately gave her a big hug before the two friends headed outside to explore. Video footage of his miraculous journey is available here.

The move comes on the heels of a lawsuit that PETA filed in January 2016—shortly after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service eliminated a loophole that excluded captive chimpanzees from the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—alleging that isolating Joe, a member of a highly social species, in a virtually barren enclosure and allowing visitors to throw peanuts at and harass him violated the ESA. The ESA prohibits wounding, harassing, and harming endangered animals. PETA has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against The Mobile Zoo in exchange for surrendering Joe to the Save the Chimps sanctuary.

“Chimpanzees used by the entertainment industry are routinely discarded at shoddy roadside zoos like the Mobile Zoo the second they are no longer profitable babies,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “After 17 years of loneliness, this chimpanzee’s story has a happy ending at last, but PETA is calling on Hollywood producers not to create another sad tale—and leave live chimpanzees out of their projects.”

Joe is the sixth formerly solitary chimpanzee whom PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours for use for entertainment”—has retired to Save the Chimps. According to the most recent publicly available information, only five other chimpanzees remain in solitary confinement in roadside zoos in the U.S. PETA is working toward the release of Tootie from Stump Hill Farm in Ohio and Louie from the DeYoung Family Zoo in Michigan. Two other animal advocacy organizations are pursuing the other three chimpanzees’ cases.

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