Victory: PETA Wins Retirement for Lone Chimpanzee at The Mobile Zoo

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

For Immediate Release:
April 20, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Mobile, Ala.

After more than a decade in solitary confinement in a tiny, decrepit enclosure at the Wilmer-based Mobile Zoo, the chimpanzee Joe is on his way to the accredited Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida.

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 had 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, which 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.

“This chimpanzee’s 17 years of loneliness and an empty life have a happy ending at last,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is celebrating Joe’s long-overdue move to a sanctuary, where he’ll have the care he needs in his old age and will have the company of other chimpanzees.”

The Mobile Zoo still 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.

Joe is the sixth formerly solitary chimpanzee whom PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours for use in entertainment”—has rescued and 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., and 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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