It is a sad reality that animals are exploited for use in the entertainment industries, including television and movies. Knowing that people are drawn to the screen when cute animals are on it, movie producers often use animals to increase ticket sales. For the animals, this means a life of tireless work performing unnatural tricks repeatedly until the directors are satisfied with the results.
Due to their impressive intelligence and close resemblance to humans, chimpanzees are often used in entertainment, including in the 1997 movie, “Buddy,” which starred Alan Cumming and Tonka the chimpanzee. According to Cumming, he and Tonka developed a sincere “camaraderie” during the making of the film, even allowing Tonka to groom him, and he expected to see Tonka at the movie premiere. However, he was told Tonka was not available any longer and had been sent to a sanctuary.
For the past twenty years, Cumming says he was under the impression Tonka was living a blissful life of retirement on a “sprawling sanctuary,” and he was deeply upset when PETA investigations showed that Tonka was actually suffering a miserable life in a cramped dirty cage at the Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF) in Festus. Run by Connie Braun Casey, MPF has repeatedly been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for keeping animals in a filthy environment with so much waste built up the stench of ammonia was overpowering. Furthermore, investigators described MPF as being little more than a converted house of Casey’s, where chimps are kept in bedrooms and the basement with no access to the outdoors or social interaction with other chimps.
In a letter sent to Casey, Cumming kindly asked her to send Tonka and the other chimpanzees in her care to a reputable sanctuary, but nothing has been done yet, despite pressure from PETA also.
Please join Cumming and PETA in the fight to save Tonka and the chimps at MPF by signing this petition demanding they all be sent to reputable sanctuaries where they can live a life freely outdoors with their peers. Please share this with your friends and family too – Tonka is counting on you!
Image Source: PETA