In Missouri, a lady must pay roughly $225,000 to PETA because she faked the death of a famous chimpanzee. The federal court in St. Louis issued its verdict Monday, with Judge Catherine D. Perry ordering Tonia Haddix to pay back the animal rights group for the money they spent on lawyers and transportation to get Tonka the chimpanzee off of Haddix’s home in the Lake of the Ozarks.
Tonka appeared in several popular 1990s Hollywood films, including George of the Jungle and Buddy (both starring Alan Cumming). Once Tonka’s acting career ended, he was taken in by the Missouri Primate Foundation in Festus, which is no longer in operation. In 2017, PETA filed a lawsuit due to the allegedly deplorable conditions.
Haddix took Tonka, one of the foundation’s chimpanzees, to her home close to Sunrise Beach. Haddix claimed Tonka was dead after being ordered by Judge Perry to turn over Tonka and the other animals.
Strangely, Haddix had no evidence that Tonka had actually died. Once the chimp died of natural circumstances, she said her husband burned his body. Haddix (in a Dickensian-style lie) said the cremation took place on his property in a place he called Peculiar.
Through her sobs, Haddix told St. Louis Public Radio that she loved Tonka more than her own two children. Haddix’s assertions that Tonka was dead were met with immediate skepticism from PETA.
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In June of last year, PETA got a recording of Haddix on a phone call in which she falsely claimed that “If he was not a wanted fugitive, do you realize you can make a million dollars off of TikTok off of him?”
Haddix’s home in the Lake of the Ozarks was raided by U.S. Marshals later that month, and Tonka was discovered in a tiny cage in the basement. It was decided to relocate Tonka to a Florida chimpanzee refuge. Haddix must now cover PETA’s legal fees and Tonka’s transfer fees in order to liberate the dog.
Haddix argued in court papers that she should be exempt from paying PETA’s fees because of her position. According to Judge Perry’s order, she found “somewhat puzzling” certain of Haddix’s allegations.
Perry wrote: “Haddix claims that Plaintiffs unnecessarily retained experts to disprove her assertion that Tonka was cremated at 165-170 degrees, and claims that these experts never testified before the Court. But Plaintiffs’ experts did testify at the hearing on Plaintiffs’ fourth motion for civil contempt — Haddix even cross-examined them.”
Haddix’s current debt to PETA is $224,404.24. According to Judge Perry’s ruling, Haddix has 30 days to make payment. A PETA representative said of the money coming their way: “We look forward to putting the award to use helping other animals still caught in the clutches of exploiters like Haddix.”
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