FESTUS, Mo. — There’s yet another twist involving the bizarre case of a chimpanzee locked in a Missouri basement. Now rescued, we’re also learning the chimp was nearly euthanized for no reason, according to a Florida doctor of veterinary medicine.

You’ve seen the bizarre battle play out only on FOX 2 over the last two years.

Tonia Haddix defiantly proclaimed she knew what was best for seven chimpanzees on Festus, Missouri, property.

“They’re not getting the chimps,” she told FOX 2 in July 2021, referring to PETA’s federal court action. “We’ll go as far as we need to go to keep the chimps. That’s all there is to it.”

A federal court case determined the animals would get better care at a Florida sanctuary. PETA was then allowed to move the Festus chimpanzees to Florida. Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX watched from above as the operation went down last July under U.S. Marshal oversight.

But one chimpanzee was missing, a chimp named Tonka that Haddix claimed had died last year.

“Tonka passed away,” she said in a June 2021 interview. “What happened is he had an event, and we’re assuming it was a stroke because he was flaccid on his left side — not only his leg but his arm.”

One year after Haddix said this, federal agents and PETA found Tonka alive. A picture of the chimp shows how he was apparently kept in Haddix’s mid-Missouri basement. It was a discovery that came after a secretly recorded phone call in which Haddix said Tonka was scheduled to be put down this past June 2022. On that May 27, 2022, phone call you can hear Haddix say, “He’s in congestive heart failure, again, really bad.”

Pictures and videos since the rescue show Tonka in her new Florida sanctuary, called “Save the Chimps.” Now, a doctor of veterinary medicine has weighed in, releasing the following statement.

While Tonka needs dental work and is substantially overweight, the examination did not show signs of congestive heart failure, which his former owner claimed he had for the last year. He shows no need for the heavy doses of medications that she was reportedly giving him or the euthanasia she was reportedly considering, and his health is likely to improve with the appropriate diet and exercise that he’s now enjoying at the sanctuary, where he regularly climbs to the top of his two-story enclosure to bask in the sun.

Valerie A. Kirk, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services, Save the Chimps, Inc.

Haddix responded via text message, saying: “I don’t care what the so-called vet stated. I only know what my vet has stated and what meds he’s prescribed so I will say I stand behind my vet and his assessments 100%.”