Alan Cumming co-star’s missing chimpanzee thought dead, found alive

Last May, Tonka the chimpanzee, an elderly monkey who played in George of the Jungle and Buddy alongside actor Alan Cumming in 1997, died, according to court records.

The chimpanzee had recently suffered a stroke and died of heart failure, owner Tonia Haddix claimed, submitting a statement and court documents to a Missouri judge that detailed how the animal’s body was burned. in a hearth.

But this week Tonka was found alivesecretly hid last year at Haddix’s Clever, Missouri home, where he had a 60-inch television, an interactive iPad-like touchscreen device, and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day among a few close friends of Haddix.

Authorities raided her home on Thursday under an emergency court order obtained by PETA, which she has been fighting in a heated lawsuit since 2018. Fake Tonka’s death was a last-ditch effort by Haddix to keep her beloved chimp after a judge ordered Tonka and six other chimps to be delivered to the Center for Great Apes Sanctuary in Wauchula, Florida.

Haddix was arrested by a recording of a phone call PETA said he received where the exotic pet breeder “confessed that [Tonka] was still alive but would be euthanized on June 2.

With officials still on his property Friday, Haddix admits to having rolling stone that she lied about Tonka’s death, saying he was with her the whole time. “Oh absolutely, 100%,” she says. “In my house, yes.”

However, she denies that she intended to euthanize Tonka anytime soon, insisting that due to her poor health, her long-time vet was simply planning to do an exam that day, although the doctor recommended that Tonka should eventually be put down.

And despite being found in contempt of court for lying under oath, Haddix laughs. “Honey, I’ve been held in contempt of court three times,” she said. “I paid $50 a day [in fines]. I went through the mill. I’m sure there will be jail time in there. Do I care? No I do not care. It’s because it’s about this kid. As long as this kid is safe, I don’t care about anything down there.

Tonka’s discovery is the latest tiger king-esque twist in PETA’s lawsuit against Haddix, which says a documentary is being filmed about her and the legal battle, with the camera crew en route to capture the latest development in the story.

Ron Galella Collection via Getty

It’s been a saga, with PETA first suing Tonka’s original owner, Connie Casey, who ran the now-defunct company. Missouri Primate Foundation in Festus, Missouri, in 2016. (Casey was the breeder of a male chimpanzee who mutilated a Connecticut woman in 2009and had another chimpanzee who was shot in 2001 by a neighbor after the animal escaped.)

At one point, the facility was home to at least a dozen chimpanzees, and PETA claimed there were. numerous violations of the Endangered Species Actincluding cockroach-infested facilities, “keep chimpanzees in isolation [and] confining them to cramped and sterile enclosures.

Wanting to help Casey, Haddix took in seven chimpanzees, including Tonka, but PETA claimed the facility was still not adequate for the animals, and so added Haddix to the suit. After a back-and-forth over various improvements to the facility, as well as a judge limiting the number of chimps Haddix could have in his care, the chimps were finally ordered to be sent to the sanctuary.

But Haddix says she couldn’t bear to part ways with Tonka, saying she made him a promise that he “would never have to do anything again that he never wants to do again”. And after her alleged stroke earlier that year, Haddix claims she decided to fake her death.

The animal rights group had doubted Haddix’s story from the start, citing her conflicting accounts of how her body was disposed of and a whistleblower last August who claimed Haddix had admitted that he was still alive. After several public pleas for information, the nonprofit has teamed up with former Tonka co-star Cumming to offer a $20,000 reward to anyone who can help them locate Tonka, which which led to its discovery.

“After months of searching, Tonka has finally been found and help is on the way,” PETA attorney Jared Goodman said in a statement. “He has endured nearly a year in solitary confinement and is likely in need of urgent care, but if all goes well PETA will soon arrange for him to be moved to a lush sanctuary where he will finally have a chance to live. real life.”

The organization said it is also hiring an “independent veterinarian to assess whether Tonka is healthy enough to travel to an accredited sanctuary”.

But Haddix thinks Tonka won’t survive being transported to a sanctuary, and even if he did, she says a lack of human contact at the rescue facilities would kill him.

“Tonka just can’t tolerate this,” she explains. “If anyone knows Tonka, Tonka is not a normal chimp. He is a popular chimp because he was bred for film shoots and he doesn’t care about other chimps. He doesn’t act like any other chimpanzee, he loves people.

Haddix says she doesn’t know who informed PETA that she was harboring Tonka, saying only a select few knew about it. “I’m sorry for the person who did this and not because I’m threatening them in any way but whatever it is will be made public on all social media to be desecrated under this shape and this way,” she says.

According to a 10-page transcript of the recorded phone call PETA received rolling stone reviewed, Haddix was on the phone with someone who appeared to be part of the documentary crew, discussing potential interviews with family members and updates on Tonka’s health, including including the apparent confirmation of Tonka’s euthanasia plans.

“I had [the vet] came out the other day on Mr. T and he has congestive heart failure, again, really bad, Haddix said. “And [the vet] wanted me to put it down the other day, but I couldn’t. So he made an appointment for the 2 [June].”

“Yeah,” the other person replies. “Maybe we could interview your son and be there at the same time. Let me pass it on to everyone, but it would work.

“Because it’s the end of the legacy,” Haddix said.

While Haddix did not respond to further comments on Friday whether she was indeed planning to euthanize Tonka, she describes the chimp as her “best friend,” saying that if PETA takes her away from her, she will die.

“I won’t do that and that’s fine because if they want it on them, each in turn,” she adds. “At this point, I don’t even care, other than that I want Tonka to be okay. That’s all I care about. And they’re going to kill him, and I’ve already warned all the feds marshals If anything happened to this kid, I feel sorry for them because they will be prosecuted from here to there.