Festus ordered chimpanzees seized in secret action; the judge demands proof that one of them is dead

FESTUS, Mo. – The Festus chimps we featured in previous Fox Files reports may soon be seized with the help of the US Marshals.

FOX 2 was the only media in federal court over the unusual lawsuit against chimpanzee caregiver Tonia Haddix.

“I don’t give up until there is no surrender,” Haddix said after the hearing.

Haddix may be at the end of her fight as the judge tells her about the impending seizure of the chimpanzees she is caring for. You could see her cry in court.

“Because, you know, we love these kids more than anything and I mean more than anything; more than my children, more than anything, ”she said. “And I want these chimps to be able to stay in the only home they know and be looked after by caregivers who love them, not strangers.”

Haddix intervened in a lawsuit filed by animal rights group PETA, hoping to keep the chimpanzees at Festus. They are owned by Connie Casey. Casey ran a birthday party business that she brought chimps to when they were babies. It was called ChimParty.

Haddix fought PETA until last September, when she made a deal to move them to a Florida wildlife sanctuary. Then she withdrew from the deal, telling FOX 2 on June 8, “They don’t have the chimps. They don’t get them. Now, I’ve decided to keep them all, just in principle, because they don’t deserve chimpanzees.

This led to warnings and orders from the judge, as well as a new accusation that Haddix falsely claimed that a chimpanzee named Tonka had died so she could keep it secret.

After the hearing, FOX 2 asked her about it, saying, “They’re calling you a liar about Tonka.”

“I know. They have been from the start, Haddix replied. “I found him in the cage. It was probably Saturday late at night but I found him (a) Sunday, every time I was going down there.

Haddix stands by the claim that Tonka is dead.

“Yes and I will gladly give PETA a copy – a piece of their ashes or ashes, so they can test the DNA to make sure they know it’s a chimpanzee or the Tonka or Tonka line. that’s in that box. “

A federal judge ordered him to prove it by this week, while scheduling a chimpanzee seizure in which Haddix is ​​banned from being nearby.

“We’re finally looking to move these chimps into this professional sanctuary environment that we’ve specifically negotiated with her,” Peta’s attorney Jared Goodman said after the hearing.

“The court allows us to take the appropriate measures to make this happen as smoothly as possible. The US Marshal Service will be present to ensure a smooth transfer, but we hope there will be no problem. “

The judge not only ordered the US Marshals to be present at this upcoming seizure, but it also banned cameras from the Festus property during this action. The judge also warned that the time and day of that seizure should be kept a secret from the public (including FOX 2) although it appeared to indicate it would happen soon.

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