A Missouri woman who has been ordered by a judge to hand her seven chimpanzees over to PETA says that she will not comply — demanding that they will need to “bring sheriffs, bring everyone they can,” because the organization is not taking them.
Tonia Haddix is a beloved figure within the small community of people who legally share their lives with primates in the United States.
This group includes a wide range of personalities. Some breed the various species of endangered monkeys that are rapidly disappearing in the wild as their natural habitats are destroyed. Others raise them as companions. There are also those who rescue and adopt the primates that have to be rehomed when people who buy them as pets realize the amount of work that actually goes into making sure the adorable critters have a high quality of life. Just like in any group of people, there are, of course, both good and bad.
Private ownership of primates is a controversial issue, and certainly people should not go into it unprepared, or attempt to bring them to states where it is banned. However, in many cases these animals live very full and enriched lives with the right caretakers. Haddix is one of those people. This kind and warm woman has dedicated her life to giving these majestic creatures the best experience possible away from the wild and she has worked hard to understand and meet all of their complex and demanding needs. It is impossible to have a conversation with her and not see the great love she has for her primate family. It is also impossible not to immediately like her.
Haddix did not purchase these seven chimps, but inherited them from a woman named Connie Casey who ran a rescue called the Missouri Primate Foundation, which took in rescued chimps and retired zoo animals, after she became unable to continue caring for them. PETA launched their first lawsuit against Casey in 2016, right before Haddix took over, claiming that MPF was violating the Endangered Species Act. Some of their chimps, known for being happy and friendly, had appeared in films such as “George of the Jungle,” “Babe: Pig in the City,” “Buddy,” “MVP: Most Valuable Primate,” and “Spy Mate.” They have also been featured on Hallmark Cards.
Once Haddix took over care of the animals at the impressive primate compound, PETA turned their lawyers on her. The organization clearly wasn’t actually too worried about her care for the primates, however, as they only wanted to take four of them. They even offered to let her choose which ones to send away, and she planned to choose the ones she believed would be most likely to survive going to a new sanctuary.
That has now changed, and she will be fighting to keep all seven.
Haddix loves the chimps like family — because really, they are. In court, she broke down sobbing while comparing them to her own children. She has even built a brand new sanctuary and launched an organization called Chimp Hope International. They will not be part of any roadside zoo or attraction, she simply wants to keep the troop together in her care.
Chimps, much like humans, form strong bonds with the other animals and people in their troops. They spend their entire lives together and when they are seized by these supposedly “well-meaning” organizations and placed into new troops their chance of being accepted, and surviving, is a gamble.
Despite her chimps being happy, cared for, and in a strong unit, Judge Catherine D. Perry has now ordered Haddix to turn all seven animals over to the controversial “animal rights” organization so that they can be sent to the Center for Great Apes in Florida — which Haddix maintains offers the same size buildings and level of care that she does.
Shockingly, even though the judge ordered Haddix to give up the animals, she is forcing her to continue caring for them until the organization decides to pick them up. Each chimp costs an average of $32,000 per year for proper food, cleaning, and veterinary checkups. That bill will have to be footed by her, while knowing that they can be ripped from her care at any moment.
Haddix has refused to accept this outcome and will not be giving the animals up without a fight.
“They’re going to have to bring sheriffs, and they’re going to have to bring everything they can,” Haddix told Fox56. “They’re not getting the chimps. They’re not getting them. Now I’ve decided I’m keeping all of them, just for the principle of the matter, because they don’t deserve the chimps.”
Haddix is now being fined $50 a day for not allowing PETA access to the animals.
The truth about PETA is that for every case in which they actually make a positive difference for animals, there are sordid stories of them going after good people and destroying their businesses, livelihoods, and often the animals themselves.
In many of these primate cases, PETA will place chimps that they are awarded with an organization and sanctuary called Project Chimp, which was founded in 2014 following the end of National Institutes of Health funding for biomedical research on these animals.
Last July, PETA had to issue a statement responding to twenty-two whistleblowers from Project Chimp who alleged severe animal abuse at their facilities. They did not end their relationship with the organization, which many believed to be hypocritical given how hard they are on everyone else.
The whistleblowers alleged poor veterinary care, overcrowding, rushed chimpanzee introductions, a lack of sufficient enrichment and infrequent access to the outdoors. Far worse conditions than a chimp would face with Haddix. PETA did not call for chimps to be removed from their care.
Michael Robison, who runs a small primate rescue in Tennessee, spoke to the Gateway Pundit about the danger of PETA’s animal grabs, something he has first hand experience with.
“They’ll take these chimps that have been bonded, like our chimps that have been together for at least 25 years, and they’ll break them up and try to introduce them to a new troop somewhere,” Robison explained. “Project Chimp took three of ours last year and all three got killed.”
Robison explained that this happened because they were placed in a troop that did not accept them.
“They’re claiming that they’re doing all this because of the welfare of these chimps, but in the end, it’s all for grant money,” he said. “It’s all monetization.”
“They’re not looking at these chimps as a family unit — who have the same emotional, mental, and physical needs as a human being. It’s like taking kids into foster care,” he explained. “They bounce these animals around over and over again and they never integrate.”
The emotional toll of these moves are even more devastating for older chimps like the ones that Haddix cares for. Her chimps are in their 30s, and Robison explained that animals that age have already lost their ability to be a matriarch or an alpha in any fashion. So, when they are moved into a new troop, they can’t stand up to the hazing from the alphas and often get killed or have failure to thrive.
“They become depressed. They stop eating. They stop interacting. They just wither away,” Robison said.
Robison has now accrued a massive war chest to take on the so-called “animal rights” organizations himself. A documentary that he is producing to expose their unethical practices is expected to be completed by early next year.
Will Coggin, managing director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, who runs the website PetaKillsAnimals.com, said that while he is not familiar with this specific case, “given PETA’s unapologetic mass killing of pets and belief that animals are better off dead than in human care, the chimps might prefer their current living arrangements.”
Indeed, in 2006 PETA sued to stop the importation of several elephants from Swaziland to U.S. zoos. The organization’s lawyers argued the elephants would be better off dead than in human care with proper food, shelter, and medical care.
Documents uncovered by PETAKillsAnimals.com also indicated that following an inspection of the PETA facilities, the Commonwealth of Virginia was so shocked by the number of animals that they kill each year that the state inspector attempted to revoke their license to operate a shelter.
Dr. Daniel Kovich, the investigator with the VDACS that conducted the inspection of PETA’s animal shelter at its Virginia headquarters in July, 2010 determined “the facility does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody.”
It turns out, this is because PETA has never intended to keep animals that are surrendered to them.
“After reviewing two months worth of records, Kovich found that 245 of the 290 animals–84 percent–that PETA took into custody were killed within 24 hours. Only 17 were reported as adopted or in foster homes. Kovich noted that PETA’s shelter did not meet PETA’s own published guidelines for operating a humane animal shelter,” PETA Kills Animals reports.
You can watch PETA be confronted about their euthanasia program and proudly admit to it here (story continues below):
In 2019, PETA killed 1,500 cats and dogs. The following year, PETA’s so-called “shelter” took in 2,650 animals and euthanized 67% of them — 1,763 animals.
After the court found Haddix in contempt, PETA issued a statement that showed no real concern for the emotional well being of these animals — but warned that they would be seeking her arrest if she continued to refuse to back down.
“There is a sad history here for the chimpanzees, and PETA’s focus is on facilitating their court-ordered transfer to a safe, caring, spacious, and professional sanctuary environment. As the court advised Ms. Haddix during a recent hearing, continuing contempt of its orders could result in her arrest,” PETA’s statement read.
Haddix has vowed to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court if she has to, despite the fact that until Monday — she did not have a lawyer and was fighting this war pro se.
Now, famed attorney John Pierce, who has represented everyone from former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to several of the January 6 Capitol protesters, has offered to take her case. His new organization the National Constitutional Law Union Inc. (NCLU) aims to preserve and protect the United States Constitution and the American way of life “by providing legal support and funding to individuals whose Constitutional rights, civil liberties and similar rights are being violated or in jeopardy.”