EXCLUSIVE: Chimpanzee Showdown in Missouri
Sources close to the situation fear it could devolve into the next "Zanesville." The media is not covering it. Karlstack has obtained the sealed court document explaining why.
Two days ago, several US Marshalls showed up the home of Tonia Haddix in Sunrise Beach, Missouri. They were there to take away Tonia’s chimpanzee, Tonka. They are still there — more than 48 later — and neither side has budged an inch. Tonia is not letting them take Tonka.
Note: I rushed this article out in just a few hours because it was time-sensitive, so forgive me if it is less polished than my usual articles.
The situation is tense and still evolving. I reached out to Tonia directly, and she told me “it’s not going to end in violence in my end. I don’t own guns.” Nonetheless, it invokes comparisons to the infamous Zanesville massacre. In the Zanesville massacre, the guy freed the animals and shot himself… supposedly.
Nobody in the exotic animal world thinks that’s what happened. They think the cop, who happened to be in his driveway when the call came in, shot him… or so the conspiracy goes. If I had more time, I would investigate this conspiracy more fully.
Joe Exotic has a weirdly good video on it where he discusses the location of the gun compared to his body and the meat on him and stuff. He believes Terry Thompson, the owner of the exotic animals in the Zanesville incident, did not commit suicide but was murdered as part of a conspiracy to implement a ban on the private ownership of wild animals in the state. It gets pretty tinfoil hat, but apparently the autopsy report and other docs indicate he’s right about there being some oddities.
I solemnly debated whether or not it was a good idea to break this story — I did not want to inflame tensions and turn it into a media circus, which could in turn lead to a violent ending. Even comparing the situation to Zanesville in the first place rises the temperature… but it is impossible not to draw the comparison. That is naturally where the mind wanders.
Ultimately, I was persuaded to cover it by someone close to the situation who argued that “I want cameras there in case they shoot her or something.” Fair enough. I agree. Let’s get some eyeballs on this. Tonia should be livestreaming, and the mainstream press should already be swarming all over this.
The reason that media aren’t covering this already is… insane. Karlstack has obtained a sealed court order explaining why. This order was obtained from an anonymous source.
Am I, as a journalist, allowed to publish this sealed document? In short: yes. For my justification I will quote Adam Liptak, Senior Counsel, New York Times: “Sources provide information to the press in violation of their legal and other obligations to keep that information secret all the time. So long as the reporter did nothing more than routine reporting in obtaining the information and it is newsworthy and accurate, she is free to publish it. If the reporter did something less orthodox — stole the document or paid a source to do so — the question becomes more difficult. So long as the reporter is not a party to or otherwise subject to the sealing order, its existence and timing should not matter.”
Of course, the legality of leaking sealed court documents is more nuanced than that — every case is different — but yeah, the bottom line is that I am allowed to publish documents obtained from anonymous sources. In fact I have built a career, to some degree, by publishing leaked documents and protecting my sources. Please leak me more documents securely to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The reason this document is so insane is bullet points 8 & 9 — I showed these to a lawyer friend of mine, and it just about gave him an aneurysm. Let’s take a closer look.
8: Recordings of video and taking of photographs of the transfer is prohibited.
The feds are attempting to seize her chimp, and they are forbidding her from filming the attempted seizure? This is a wildly illegal court order. When has a court ruled that you can't film law enforcement activity on your own property?! The 1st amendment allows you to film cops walking onto your property and seizing your chimpanzee, period. This censorship is something you would see in communist China.
9: Prohibited from sharing the dates and/or times of the transfer with any non-party.
Holy shit… she is not even allowed *to tell anyone* that the feds are seizing her chimp!? Is the chimp Al-Qaeda or something?
This is the most insanely illegal thing I have ever seen.
— Anonymous lawyer
The government does not want this to be reported on because it it bad optics — a clear case of government overreach. Well, guess what, the world knows now. The truth is coming out. Please share this article widely to expose the corrupt Missouri judicial system.
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So, how did we get to this point? Well, the story only gets wilder and more surreal from here on out. It’s complicated. There are decades of chimp history/lore/legal drama building up to this moment, and I will not attempt to become an expert in chimp law and history. Rather I will start telling this story in July 2021 when PETA had sued Tonia’s establishment over the chimpanzees' living conditions and were granted permission to legally remove Tonka.
Here is a video of the enclosure that PETA claimed was a “tiny filthy hell hole” in court:
Derek-Gulag Escape Atist @Derek4747@CassandraRules Legitimate question @CassandraRules why was the litigation filed in the first place? Sounds like a straight power grab if all were healthy. I hadn’t heard of this case, but am completely opposed to PETA
When PETA arrived to seize Tonka from this enclosure in July 2021, Tonka was missing.
Tonia told PETA that Tonka was dead.
PETA then (rightly, as it turns out) accused Tonia of faking Tonka’s death and spiriting him away to a secret location. PETA claims that by faking his death and spiriting him away, she selfishly denied him the companionship of other chimpanzees, a basic necessity of psychological well-being in chimpanzees
But PETA could not prove that Tonia faked Tonka’s death. So PETA and actor Alan Cummings offered a $20k reward for a snitch… because Tonka is the chimp star from the movie Buddy, a 1997 family comedy. Of course, Alan Cumming never saw the chimp or reached out to them for the past 25 years, but whatever.
PETA’s campaign to incentivize snitching worked, and that’s how we got to where we are today. Someone recorded Tonia admitting that Tonka was alive in a phone call, and then tipped off authorities. But we don’t know who snitched. A traitor in the chimp story.
At first blush PETA’s crusade seems well intentioned and righteous — they call the Missouri Primate Foundation, which Tonia ran, "a notorious, now-defunct breeding facility in Festus, Missouri that bred baby chimpanzees, rented them out for movies and parties, and sold them to private owners."
But it’s bullshit. The Missouri Primate Foundation may have been sketchy, like, 50 years ago, when it was run by another lady who exploited the animals by using them in movies and greeting cards. Tonia then took over the place, cleaned it up, got some of the chimps to sanctuaries — there were ~40 chimps there originally, she got it down to 7. Once Tonia took over the place they weren’t breeding, it wasn’t open to the public, no exploitation at all… but PETA carried the lawsuit over to her nonetheless.
Now PETA wants to seize Tonka and transfer him to a new sanctuary, where Tonka “will receive expert veterinary care, a nutritious diet, the opportunity to interact with other chimpanzees, and regular access to a beautiful enclosure space with loads of environmental enrichment to encourage natural behaviors.”
Sounds great right? Well, there is a problem. When PETA takes peoples’ chimps from them, those chimps tend to end up dead. Several chimps have been killed this way last year. This is what happens. Chimps such as Tonka who were raised in Hollywood and raised around humans are incapable of integrating with chimps who were raised around other chimps. The Hollywood chimps tend to get killed by the chimp-socialized chimps. This is what happens when animal rights activists (who don’t understand primates) get what they want and throw them in random troops. According to one source, “it is like taking a child from foster care and throwing them in a cage with gangs.”
These PETA approved sanctuaries also gave the chimps the Covid vaccine, even though it was considered experimental.. and under the ESA it’s illegal to test on chimps that have been retired from animal testing.
Tonka would be the 20th chimpanzee PETA has rescued from roadside zoos and private owners since 2013.
I reached out to PETA to ask how many of those 20 were killed by other chimps.
I did not receive a response.
UPDATE: After publishing this article I went to check my inbox to see that PETA responded. Here is their 4 word answer, which seems like a brazen lie:
UPDATE: Here is another statement from PETA:
So that is where we are at.
On June 2nd, 2022, PETA obtained a court order to seize Tonka and integrate Tonka with other chimps, but if they do that, it is likely that the other chimps will kill Tonka. Tonia doesn’t want that to happen, so she is refusing to surrender Tonka, maintaining that she wants Tonka to live out the last bit of his life comfortably so he could die peacefully instead of being beat to death by other chimps. This is the only reason she hid him and faked his death.
The US Marshalls have now shown up at Tonia’s house to prevent her from again secreting Tonka away again in violation of the Court’s order. They have been there for over 48 hours — at one point they even had the house surrounded — but now they are waiting outside in their cars and intermittently checking in.
The US Marshalls are also intermittently confiscating Tonia’s phone. How the fuck is that legal? The feds can just take your phone now? Like a parent scolding a child? Everything they’re doing is crazy.
The big issue is going to be when PETA arrives.
The US Marshals are waiting for PETA to show up to the scene, where according to a PETA press release from 2 days ago, they are planning a “rescue” operation and will likely force a confrontation. PETA is effectively acting as a paramilitary force and using the feds as their thugs. This paramilitary power was granted to them by Obama under the endangered species act: PETA can sue any individual or zoo and the government gives them peoples’ animals. They are apparently doing it to small zoos all the country.
My Peace Proposal
Neither side is going to like this proposal… but that is the essence of compromise. The mediator sometimes needs to play his role and be the bad guy. As an impartial 3rd party approaching this situation with fresh eyes, I can see what needs to be done here that both parties (PETA and Tonia) are too stubborn and dug-in to see. Their stubbornness has led to them losing sight of what is important as they fight over Tonka: Tonka’s wellbeing.
Tonka needs to be euthanized, for the good of Tonka.
Tonka is ~50 years old, and the average life expectancy for chimpanzees in captivity is only 32.5 years. Tonka is a very elderly chimp with a history of strokes, heart problems, and other medical conditions. Tonka is essentially in hospice care, and last year Tonka’s veterinary described his condition in court as “rapid physical decline” and notes that “Euthanasia was discussed at length.” The vet advised that Tonka should be euthanized last year, but Tonia wanted to try the heart medication. Tonka’s heart is not really improving.
If you are at a point where you are debating whether or not euthanasia is the most merciful option… nine out of ten times, it is.
Expert testimony was introduced in court by Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh, one of the world’s foremost experts on chimpanzees. That expert is undeniably one of the best after like… Jane Goodall.. and she was fully on Tonia’s side after spending time with her and the chimp. Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh argued that PETA is a is gambling with Tonka’s life by pushing this issue. PETA doesn’t even know if he can safely travel because he’s so old and ill, but PETA persists nonetheless, because they are dug-in and stubborn. This isn’t about Tonka to them; this is about publicity and sunk costs. PETA is dragging this out to prove a point — to give the middle finger to exotic pet owners.
Overall — just a tragic situation. The chimp and Tonia are both dying soon. The chimp has a bad heart, and Tonia has myeloid Leukemia. Tonka and Tonia love each other. Why can’t the government just let both of them die in peace, together? They need to force an armed confrontation… why, exactly? Just to prove that PETA has the biggest swinging dick in the room? Totally senseless.
PETA is likely going to enforce their court order this weekend, and when they do, no animals or humans should have to die violently. I am hoping this article goes viral, in Missouri, at least, so that we can get some reporters and lawyers with boots on the ground to go film the situation. Sunrise Beach has a population of 408 people, so it can’t be that hard to find Tonia’s house. I would go myself, but I am still trapped in Canada and can’t board airplanes due to vaccine mandates.
The US government and PETA want this chimp seizure to be done in secret this weekend — and they are willing to write illegal gag orders to ensure as much. This egregious 1st amendment violation needs to be aired out in the open, and this situation needs to be filmed so that PETA and the US marshals know that they are being held accountable, rather than thinking that they are operating in secrecy.
Chimps together strong.
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