FESTUS, Mo. – A Missouri woman could face new consequences on top of possible federal prosecution for her elaborate story about Tonka the Chimp, one which she addressed with FOX 2 in July.
Tonia Haddix claimed the chimpanzee had died when she really had it locked in her basement. National nonprofit PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) previously filed a lawsuit claiming that Tonka and other chimpanzees were not getting proper care and living in unsafe conditions.
PETA followed up after the lawsuit and sent a new complaint Thursday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the situation, requesting that feds should revoke the Animal Welfare Act licenses of Haddix and her husband. The complaint contends that the two repeatedly committed perjury and submitted false information to federal courts.
The complaint alleges the two concocted an elaborate hoax when claiming Tonka had died, lied under oath about text messages she sent about Tonka needing groceries at a time she previously deemed the chimp dead and tried to bribe federal marshals ordered to prevent Haddix from euthanizing Tonka.
Based on USDA regulations, an AWA license may be terminated for license holders who false statements to a government agency or are otherwise considered unfit to be licensed.
“Haddix must face the consequences for spinning a web of lies at Tonka’s expense,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel Jared Goodman. “PETA is calling on the USDA to revoke these abusers’ licenses so that other animals will be safe from their clutches.”
Following PETA’s lawsuit, a federal judge has since made a criminal referral to federal prosecutors for perjury, an offense that can bring up to five years in prison if convicted.
Haddix told FOX 2 in July that she was unable to talk on camera about the situation, but she sent the following message: “I still stand on my promise to Tonka, and I would do anything to protect him from the evil clutches of PETA and the hell hole they placed him in. And that if the judicial system was just, he never would have left the only home he’s ever known.”
Tonka was ultimately rescued by PETA and now lives at a sanctuary in Florida.