Famous Hollywood chimp found caged in the basement of a Missouri home

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 10:44 AM CDT
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LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. (KY3/Gray News) - Thought to be dead, authorities found a chimp known for appearances in Hollywood movies alive in the basement of a home in Missouri.

Tonka had starred in “George of the Jungle” and “Buddy,” according to KY3, but his owner, Tonia Hadix, told a judge the chimp had died.

Jared Goodman with PETA said the federal court in Missouri ordered in 2021 that Tonka and six other chimpanzees be transferred to an accredited sanctuary.

When officials arrived to pick up the seven chimps, Tonka was nowhere to be found. According to PETA, Hardix had previously said under oath that Tonka had died.

“We never bought the lies about his death,” Goodman said, adding they never gave up on looking for Tonka.

Officials found the Hollywood chimp in a cage built into a basement Sunday.

“He did not have any access to the outside whatsoever, no ability to climb, no ability to interact with other chimpanzees or even smell fresh air,” Goodman said.

According to federal court records, Missouri Primate Foundation is involved in a lawsuit over unsafe living conditions.

Goodman says while chimpanzees are beautiful animals, they can be dangerous.

“As soon as chimpanzees become a little bit older than a few years old, they’re very dangerous. And this is why places like the Missouri Primate Foundation have so many chimpanzees,” Goodman said. “It was their primary breeding ground for chimpanzees used in the entertainment industry in the pet trade. The vast majority of chimps were used for that purpose.”

Preliminary reports show Tonka is overweight, but is healthy and enjoying his new home in Florida.

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