Missouri chimps ordered seized in secretive action

FOX Files

FESTUS, Mo. – The Festus chimpanzees we’ve featured in previous Fox Files reports may soon be seized with the help of U.S. Marshals. FOX 2 was the only media outlet in federal court for the unusual court action against chimpanzee caregiver Tonia Haddix.

“I am not giving up until there is no giving up,” Haddix said after the hearing.

Haddix may be at the end of her fight as the judge told her about the imminent seizure of the chimps she’s been caring for. She could be seen crying in court.

“Because, you know, we love these kids more than anything in the world and I mean more than anything; more than my kids, more than anything,” she said. “And I want these chimpanzees to be able to stay in the only home that they know and to be cared for by caregivers that love them and not some strangers.”

Haddix intervened in a lawsuit filed by the animal rights group PETA, hoping to keep the chimps in Festus. They’re at Connie Casey’s property. Casey used to run a birthday party business where she’d bring the chimps as babies. It was called ChimParty.

Haddix fought PETA until last September when she made an agreement to transition them to a Florida animal sanctuary. Then she backed out of the deal, telling FOX 2 on June 8, “They’re not getting the chimps. They’re not getting them. Now I’ve decided I’m keeping all of them, just for the principal of the matter, because they don’t deserve the chimps.”

That led to warnings and orders by the judge, along with a new accusation that Haddix falsely claimed a chimpanzee named Tonka died so that she can secretly keep it.

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 get-go,” Haddix answered. “I found him in the cage. It was probably Saturday late night but I found him (on a) Sunday, whenever I went down there.”

Haddix stands by the assertion Tonka is dead.

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

A federal judge ordered her to prove it by this week, along with scheduling a seizure of the chimpanzees in which Haddix is prohibited from being anywhere near.

“We’re looking to finally just move these chimpanzees to this professional sanctuary environment that we specifically negotiated with her,” Peta lawyer Jared Goodman said after the hearing.

“The court is allowing us allowing us to take appropriate measures to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible. The U.S. Marshal Service will be present to ensure a smooth transfer, but we’re hopeful there will be no hiccups.”

The judge not only ordered U.S. Marshals to be at this upcoming seizure but she is also prohibiting cameras on the Festus property during this action. The judge also warned that the time and day of this seizure must remain secret from the public (including FOX 2) though she seemed to indicate it will happen soon.

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