Where’s Tonka, the Movie Chimp? Up to $10,000 Reward Offered in Missing Ape Case

For Immediate Release:
February 11, 2022

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Festus, Mo. – PETA is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the safe recovery or confirmation of death of Tonka, the missing chimpanzee whose last known whereabouts were inside the former Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF) facility, a breeding outfit that previously rented out baby chimpanzees for events and sold them to private homes and movie exhibitors and was known as “Chimparty.”

Tonka, who appeared with Alan Cumming in the movie Buddy, was one of the chimpanzees who were to be rescued from the Festus facility on July 28, 2021, as required by a court consent decree between PETA, MPF operator Connie Casey, and exotic-animal broker Tonia Haddix, to whom Casey had transferred ownership of the chimpanzees. But when PETA arrived to move the chimpanzees from their cages to a sanctuary, Tonka was missing. Haddix claimed, without any solid evidence, that he had “died.” In January 2022, a judge acknowledged that a mystery surrounds Tonka’s disappearance and found that Haddix was unable to prove that he’s dead—so PETA is now seeking leads into his current location. Cumming is eager to find this chimpanzee and was astounded to learn that he was not well cared for.

“If you know where Tonka may have been shipped, sold, or hidden away, PETA wants to hear from you,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “If he is still alive, Tonka deserves to live out the rest of his days surrounded by chimpanzee friends in a lush sanctuary, as ordered by the court, and there may be someone out there who can help PETA get him there.”

The consent agreement, which also bars Haddix and Casey from ever again owning or possessing chimpanzees, was reached after PETA and a former MPF volunteer sued Casey over the conditions of the chimpanzees at MPF, who were warehoused in often filthy, virtually barren enclosures. The eight chimpanzees PETA rescued from the facility are now thriving in a spacious sanctuary, where a home is waiting for Tonka, who would be the 20th chimpanzee PETA has rescued from roadside zoos and private owners since 2013.

Anyone with pertinent information should call PETA at 757-622-PETA or submit their tips at PETA.org/Tonka.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any 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