Feds RAID Woman’s Home – All For Owning A Pet
(FeaturedNews.com) – Federal marshals, working on a tip from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), raided a Missouri basement where they found former Hollywood star Tonka, the chimpanzee. Tonka, part of a long-fought battle between his caretaker and the animal activist group, was taken into federal custody unharmed and sent to a facility in Florida to assess his needs.
An Unusual Case
Tonka spent the bulk of his life on Hollywood sets. His most famous role was in “George of the Jungle” with Brendan Fraser back in 1997. In 2017, he starred alongside Alan Cumming in “Buddy.” When Cumming reached out to reconnect with his animal friend, he was told Tonka was retired. After learning of the chimp’s living conditions, he issued a statement seeking his former co-star’s freedom.
The actor found that Tonka wasn’t being kept in a proper enclosure with room to run, climb, and play and had no meaningful interactions with other apes. In addition, the facility Tonka was in, The Missouri Primate Foundation, had issues with escaping chimps and some questionable living conditions. Cumming joined forces with PETA, and before long, four of the seven chimps in the foundation’s care were off to greener pastures in Florida. However, they made an agreement with Tonka’s owner, Tonia Haddix, saying she could keep three chimps on the condition she upgraded their quality of life.
A year later, PETA sued for custody of the last three apes and won. Haddix informed them at that time that Tonka had died, and that his body was allegedly cremated. PETA and Cumming didn’t buy the story, issuing a nationwide reward for Tonka’s recovery. Tips led them to the Lake of the Ozarks, where marshals rescued the ape.
A Unique Story Unfolds
From the outside looking in, it may seem that Haddix showed extreme disregard for Tonka. Cumming’s assertions that the aging chimp had no meaningful relationships with those of his kind or space to run and play may be true of your average chimp, but Haddix said the former star was no ordinary trained ape.
The chimp owner told Rolling Stone that Tonka didn’t have meaningful chimp relationships because he didn’t care about chimps. “He’s a people chimp.” She contended that Tonka was far happier living his life being treated like a person. According to Haddix, he doesn’t act like a chimpanzee, and he loves people. He spent his entire life surrounded by movie sets and actors, not trees to climb or with other apes for play.
Haddix has been in trouble for not complying with the standard care for a regular chimp before and says she’s fully expecting some jail time. But, considering the special relationship between Tonka and his owner, was all the concern warranted? While it’s true chimpanzees are wild animals and have been known to snap and attack, his life hasn’t been that of a typical chimp.
Do you think the government and PETA were right to get involved, or should they have let Tonka live the life his caretaker had in store?
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